The dream and the goal has been clear for carriers: ditch first-generation mobile data protocols and build on top of LTE. But as some customers find it difficult to budge, the industry finds it harder — what will it do with the connections it wants to upgrade? Throw them away?

Obviously, that can’t be the answer. And it shouldn’t. AT&T shut off 2G at the start of the year and was apparently satisfied at its retention rate. Will T-Mobile do the same anytime soon?

CTO Neville Ray had a soft answer when he spoke at an Ericsson press conference during MWC 2017.

“With handset refresh cycles, you look at 2019, and I think it’s an opportunity to move to an all-LTE network,” Ray said.

Well, a nearly all-LTE network — EDGE still has spectrum at odd ends of T-Mobile’s LTE plots to serve Internet of Things device owners and connected machines like parking meters and vending machines, something it can give thanks to a “competitor” for.

Meanwhile, Wi-Fi Calling helps fill in the gaps left by Voice over LTE. But while VoLTE does have a respectable 70 percent share of calls made on the Un-carrier’s network, Ray wants “to get that last 30 percent” before going through the repacking process of 3G spectrum.

That said, the plan by 2020 is to let GSM die.

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