5G Network and 3G compatibility

Hey everyone,

I was talking to a cousin today about cell phone plans. She mentioned as of Dec. 2020 3G and below devices won’t be supported by the new 5G network. She also mentioned at that same time carriers won’t offer text and talk plans, all plans will be data driven. Does anyone know if this is true and what that mean for the RW unlimited talk and text plans? Thanks!

Hi @stevet181,

There are kernels of truth to that information, however, it’s more than a bit overstated. It’s true, network owners are in the process of retiring 3G networks, however and depending to some extent on the specific network in question it’s unlikely to be complete by December 2020.

At this point, 5G is more marketing talking point than reality. 4G LTE is likely to be the primary cellular network technology for some time to come. Even when 5G does become the dominant technology, there’s nothing inherent to it that says a service provider wouldn’t be able to offer talk and text plans only. I don’t expect to see them go away entirely.


I don’t think that response is very helpful nor accurate. TMobile, which now owns Sprint, has broad coverage of their 5G (admittedly light version) in my state. Some remote areas still have 4G LTE but it is not predominant in the urban areas nor along the major interstates.
My phone is getting quite old and is in desperate need of replacement. It would be nice to see a discussion from Republic Wireless about their plans for a 5G future.

Hi @trotter and welcome to the Community!

Are any of those areas 5G only? Or, is 4G LTE also present? My understanding is T-Mobile’s current 5G implementation is not a whole lot faster than 4G LTE much as initial implementations of 4G LTE were barely faster (and sometimes slower) than then existing 3.5G technologies. In fact, part of the reason 4G LTE is used as a term rather than merely 4G is T-Mobile and others branded by marketing fiat then existing 3.5G technologies as 4G, so needed to use 4G LTE to differentiate real 4G.

Though T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint is now complete, it will be until at least year end 2021 before those disparate networks are fully integrated.

I believe it should be kept in mind Republic does not own a cellular network. Rather, Republic provides cellular coverage via its network partners. Republic’s current partners are T-Mobile and the now T-Mobile owned Sprint. Republic’s plans for a 5G future will largely depend upon on how its current network partner and/or potential future network partners evolve 5G. Please don’t read much into the mention of potential future network partners. It’s merely an acknowledgement of theoretical possibility on my part. I have no inside information regarding any plans Republic may or may not have regarding how its network partnerships may or may not evolve.

The other variable is availability of 5G capable phones at a “reasonable” price. There’s currently a dearth of those as indicated in this recent article from Tom’s Guide:

Of the phones referenced there, Republic does support U.S. factory unlocked variants of Samsung’s Galaxy S20, S20+ and S20 Ultra. Though Republic does not currently support Apple’s iPhone outside of a closed invitation only beta, I think it’s worth mentioning Apple does not yet have a 5G iPhone though that will change this fall with the iPhone 12 series. Some think Apple knows some things about the U.S. mobile phone market and Apple hasn’t been in a particular hurry to bring a 5G iPhone to market.

The above provides context for why I mostly stand by my comment that 5G is currently more marketing talking point than reality. That will, of course, be changing, however, it remains my opinion, we’ll be talking 2021-2022 before 5G will have meaningful broad based market penetration. If my phone were in desperate need of replacement, I wouldn’t be overly concerned with 5G just yet but that’s me.


Here is a good discussion of the ins and outs of 5G including speed, coverage, and some thoughts of the future. https://www.pcmag.com/news/race-to-5g-putting-5g-to-the-test?

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