May 24, 2019

Tracfone Closing 3G CDMA Network- (Now Extended to late 2020)

Tracfone CDMA Phones Must be 4G VoLTE by end of 2019

The latest news and information from TracfoneReviewer.

tracfone says I have to get a new phone
Why Tracfone is Making Users Get New Phones
Starting a few months ago, some Tracfone users received messages from Tracfone that their CDMA devices won't work with Tracfone by the end of 2019. For a CDMA phone to work it must have VoLTE enabled in order to make calls.

What does this mean for you and why is it happening? We've got those answers for you plus additional information on phones that are VoLTE capable.

Why is Tracfone Shutting Down 3G and 2G CDMA Networks?
Many users are asking why Tracfone is shutting down their network and forcing them to get a new phone.

The answer is, Tracfone uses Verizon's networks, and Verizon is shutting down their 2G and 3G networks which will affect any Tracfone CDMA devices using these networks.

Verizon has been planning this closure for several years and planning accordingly by including VoLTE with the phones they sell. But Tracfone doesn't seem to have planned it out so well, with only some of their more recent phone offerings including VolTE so many users will have to get a new phone to maintain service coverage.

UPDATE: Verizon has decided to push back the closure until the end of 2020, thus allowing Tracfone users to also have a little more time before they will need to upgrade phones. We will continue to update with more information soon.

Why do you need a new phone to get service? The answer is VoLTE capability.

What is VoLTE and Why Do I Need It?
The term VoLTE simply stands for Voice over LTE (with 4G LTE meaning 4th Generation Long Term Evolution) which means phone calls use the LTE data networks rather than the older voice networks.

In the past (and with many of Tracfone's CDMA phones), smartphones would use the LTE networks for data, while using the 2G or 3G networks for voice calls.  Only phones that are VoLTE capable can make voice calls on the 4G LTE network. Thus, with Verizon closing 2G and 3G networks, only VoLTE capable phones will be able to make calls.

Some may be asking why Verizon needs to close their 2G and 3G networks? The reasoning is that they will be able to repurpose these bands for higher speed 4G LTE and possibly 5G in the future.

Do I Need to Upgrade my Tracfone CDMA Smartphone?
If you received a message from Tracfone that your phone is not compatible after 2019, then you will likely need to buy a new phone.

Check out the Latest Tracfone Smartphones available.

However, in some cases it seems that the VoLTE capability can be 'turned on' for an account/SIM card. Information is still difficult to nail down, and how or why this works is also a bit murky, but some users have reported several different methods for getting VoLTE on their phone.

This only is working on somewhat newer phones, like the Samsung Galaxy J3 Sky, Sky Pro, and Luna among others. It may be worth trying before going out to buy a new phone.

To try and enable VoLTE turn off your phone, remove the SIM card and remove the battery (if possible) and wait for 20 minutes. Then reinstall the battery and SIM, and turn the phone on. To check if the phone has VoLTE, make a call and look in the top bar to see if the phone switches from 4G LTE coverage to 4G or 3G. If the phone switches out of 4G LTE, it is not using VoLTE.

Additionally, some users reported transferring service from a non VoLTE enabled device to a VoLTE capable device, and then transferring back and keeping the VoLTE. Activating a new SIM card in your phone may also turn on VoLTE.

Tracfone didn't activate VoLTE on the phones they were selling until more recently, but many are capable, they just need to be activated.

So what phones are VoLTE capable?

List of VoLTE Capable Phones from Tracfone

The phones listed below are compatible with VoLTE according to Tracfone. This list is not complete, and we will continue to add to it as we learn more. A number of older smartphones may be compatible, but

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 Crown
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 Orbit
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 Sky Pro
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 Luna Pro
  • Motorola Moto G6
  • Motorola Moto E5
  • LG Fiesta 2
  • LG Stylo 4
  • LG Stylo 3
  • LG Premier Pro
  • LG Rebel 4
  • LG Rebel 3
  • LG Rebel 2
  • Alcatel TCL LX
  • Alcatel TCL A1
  • Alcatel MyFlip
  • ZTE Blade T2
  • ZTE Z233
  • iPhone 6 or newer

What About Unlocked Phones?
For unlocked devices, almost all recently released phones are VoLTE compatible. Here is a list of compatible phones that is from 2017 but includes which older devices (such as the iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S5) have VoLTE.

For those who might want to dig deeper there is a lengthy thread on HowardForums on this topic.

Leave a comment if you have questions, thoughts or additional information. We will continue to update this post as more details emerge.

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If you are new to Tracfone start with our Beginners Guide or take a look at 6 Ways to Check your Tracfone Airtime.

Also don't miss our list of the best Deals, Discounts and Sales on Tracfone devices.

Thanks for visiting!


Anonymous said...

Does this affect a Galaxy Sky that is listed as a 4g phone?

Steve said...

I have a Motorola G6 through TracFone so I know I'll be fine when this change over happens,but I was concerned about the phone my Dad had that I gave him which was my old Galaxy Luna pro,a TracFone also,well I just checked it and found that it has the 4G Volte just like the Motorola G6, so we are both ready! I do feel that TracFone needs to have a updated list of phone's that are equipped with 4G voLte capability and ones that will no longer work on the Verizon network after 12-31-2019, otherwise TracFone will I feel have alot of upset and dissatisfied customers!!

Nancy said...

I have an old Samsung flip phone, 1x CDMA. After entering the phone number, it says I'm fine and no upgrade is needed. Also, logging does not trigger it. Probably should keep checking frequently in case they just haven't got all the information into the system.

Unknown said...

TracFone LG Treasure 4G LTE CDMA Prepaid Smartphone does the network change affect this phone? What needs to be done to get this to be compatible with the end of year 2019 network change.
Thx B

Dano83860 said...

Galaxy J7 Sky Pro is listed in the review as 4g LTE. Phone starts out LTE at the beginning of a call and stays. Think I'm good. Maybe?

educationandcareer said...

Are the Tracphones on the GSM network also going to be affected by this change eventually? Has ATT said anything about VoLTE?

Anonymous said...

My LG Rebel 3 manufactured 12/2017 passed the VoLTE test.
What concerns me is that I live in a rural area that is well within Verizon's 4G LTE
coverage map but reception is marginal because of few towers in this area. I often get only a 2G (1x) or 3G signal. If Verizon closes these networks I will get no signal much of the time, making my mobile phone useless.
Apparently this has been planned for a long time but I am just now hearing about it
six months before it happens.
The FCC should not allow Verizon to close the 2G and 3G networks unless they can ensure
that people in rural areas will receive reliable 4G LTE service.

Anonymous said...

How will calls be charged after the change? Are talk airtime minutes still used or are calls deducted from the data portion and at what rate?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how this effects "mobile data" usage.

For example, I keep my mobile data off most of the time unless I need it away from wifi. Would I still be able to make a volte phone call without mobile data on?

Samsung J7 Crown and J3 Sky

nancy45 said...

I wonder if everyone who needs to upgrade their phone has been notified by now of the change when they check into their account? I logged in to my account a few days ago and didn't see the dreaded notice, so it appears that my phone, an LG Fiesta, will be ok. I hope so because I've been really happy with this phone and would like to keep using it a while longer. There must be a lot of folks out there who have been Tracfone customers for many years who are using older "non smart" phones and don't want to have to upgrade to a smartphone to keep their service. I hope Tracfone has some good options to offer them that will be compatible with the new requirements. I want to thank you again for this great website. I check it often for promo codes info about new phones. It seems new phones are always available to buy from several other sources before Tracfone lists them on their website! Have also recommended it to friends who want to know more about Tracfone.

Anonymous said...

Will airtime minutes still be used for calls or does it decrease the data at some unknown rate per minute?

Anonymous said...

would it be accurate to assume that all i'd have to do to follow this is check my account page? when TF went to 3g a few years ago, i was sent a new flip-phone. will that happen again?

Claire Johnston said...

Tracfone has shut my phone off and this is the first I've heard of any this. No text, no email, no snail mail. I live in a rural area and I don't use the phone much and I certainly wasn't planning on buying a newer one any time soon. I'm fuming because I can't talk to anyone at Tracfone about this in the middle of the night and I'm concerned I'm going to lose my 4800 minutes, 3500 texts and 4GB of data. I also have service until September.

wkdwitch said...

Almost a month later and the thread has died.....what is the current status of this problem'. I understand why my spouses ancient flip phone on verizon would need to be updated,,,,,but nothing changes except requiring a hefty cash outlay for a more modern 4g lte hd voice phone, but my reasonably recent j3 sky with recent addition of two yrs of service is not properly addressed. Do I run out for a newer but poorer quality j7crown just to have a phone that works come Jan? Do I wait and see....maybe the J3 will be okay in Jan. there are no answers readily available at Verizon ( it is cdma) or any information from tracfone who gladly took my money for a recent addition of two years service an tpfl. I can not possibly be the only senior citizen who feels abandoned by Verizon and by Tracfonw as well as this blog. Help is needed yet nothing for almost a month.

Anonymous said...

Talk, text and data are still in separate 'buckets' under the volte hd transition. Airtime use does not decease data.

To see if your phone meets the necessary requirements check in 'settings-connections-mobile networks' ... if "VoLTE Calls" is not present/available your phone will not work.

Anonymous said...

If I read this update from Verizon it seems like most phones will work now until the end of 2020? "Starting 1/1/2021" ... Hard to say if that applies to Tracfone users.

*this seems like an important topic maybe worthy of a 'bump up' or re-post on this blog.

Curly said...

Does anybody know what happens if TRACFONE forces you to switch to a newer (VoLTE) phone and your current phone has "triple minutes" program, is TRACFONE going to transfer the "triple minutes" program to the new phone? Or is this just a scam by TRACFONE to renege on its promises to customers of "triple minutes for lifetime"?

Anonymous said...

So I'm going to have to upgrade my Nokia 2126i? I really don't want a smartphone plan, wonder if they will have a basic phone that will work with the new network.