Enlarge /. A man walks with an umbrella in front of AT&T headquarters in Dallas, Texas on March 13, 2020.

AT&T sends emails to customers warning them that their phones will soon stop working and that they should buy a new phone to continue receiving data and voice services. However, the email is misleading as these older phones will continue to work in the AT&T network until 2022 or another 18 months. Even worse, the AT&T email goes to some customers whose phones have the modern technology necessary to continue working after the 2022 cutoff.

"We will soon be upgrading our network to the latest technologies," the AT&T email said, as shown in an article published today by Android Police. "But your device … is not compatible with the new network and you must continue to replace it to continue receiving services. Our team is here to help you find a compatible device that meets your needs." The email promotes "free same day delivery" for new phones.

The email contains links to an AT&T support page titled "Get ready, 3G will disappear in 2022." The support page states that AT&T will phase out its 3G network by February 2022 and that "3G devices and 4G radios that do not support HD Voice will no longer work in our network".

While the email to customers refers to this page, the email itself sounds like phones will no longer work in the near future, but in 18 months. People who receive the email and don't click the link may think that they need to buy a new phone now.

In addition, some customers receive the email even though they already have phones that support 4G and Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology, which enables AT & T's HD Voice service. A customer who suspected the AT&T email was a scam wrote in an AT&T support forum yesterday:

I just received an email from AT&T that the network is no longer compatible with my device and I need to upgrade. First of all, this email sounded lazy to me. There were odd letters and numbers in the email address line. With this ongoing pandemic, you unfortunately have to be very careful about what is real and not a scam. Is it real or no? My cell phone is over a year old, an Android S10E.

The Samsung Galaxy S10E mentioned by this customer was released in March 2019 and can support HD Voice, as AT & T's own website confirms. Another person who received the email wrote in the support forum: "I have confirmed that my phone supports 4G and HD language. This is required by AT&T. There are many more phones than the list that support both 4G and HD speech. Someone is. " either lazy or lying. "

Seems like a scam, but the AT&T employee says it's real

A forum poster thought the email was "definitely a scam" because "no one-year phone will suddenly be incompatible". But the email was legitimate. In another AT&T support thread in which a customer asked today whether the email was a scam, an AT&T employee replied: "It is not a scam. AT & T drives 3G down, so phones that are not VoLTE compliant no longer work. "

We contacted AT&T today and will update this article when the company answers our questions.

The problem is obviously not whether the phone itself has the technology to support HD Voice, but whether AT&T has whitelisted it. Android Police wrote that "AT&T only whitelists a small number of handsets that it sells directly to customers for 4G voice calls, and it looks like even identical phones without a carrier may not necessarily use the HD Mobile operator voice services work like the Galaxy S10E mentioned above. Depending on how many handsets are incompatible, this email may have been sent to a significant number of subscribers. "

In the AT&T support forum, a customer wrote: "It is quite deaf to urge people to buy a new phone during an economic crisis. It is also worth noting that many of the phones concerned (like my Nokia 6.1) support HD Voice. AT&T just didn't bother whitelisting it. "The Nokia 6.1 uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor that supports Voice over LTE.

This AT&T website contains a list of the "HD Voice-enabled devices that work on our network". The Galaxy S10E is one of these devices, but the Nokia 6.1 is not. You can also find a list of unlocked phones that support HD Voice on the AT&T website. This also includes the Samsung Galaxy S10E, but not the Nokia 6.1.

"Upgrade or die!"

Another support thread was started by a customer who asked why AT&T "told me that my phone (a Google Pixel 3A Plus) is no longer compatible with AT&T". The AT&T list of HD Voice-enabled devices contains pixels 3A and 3A XL. So this seems to be a customer who received an incorrect notification.

Aside from the AT&T email, which apparently went to people who shouldn't have received it, the email itself found customers confusing. One customer complained that "the & # 39; upgrade or die! & # 39; emails were literally badly formatted" and "essentially content-free – you had to follow links to get more information. When I stupidly tried he still broke a link, which reinforced the idea that the email was fake. "

The customer, who described AT&T as "deaf", said that the change was "really badly communicated" and offered the shipper some reasonable suggestions and wrote:

I hope AT&T will improve things by:

  • Clarification that affected devices will continue to function until February 2022.
  • Allow all devices that support HD Voice to use these features on the AT&T network.
  • Refresh the "Bring your own device with you" page to resolve these limitations.

Update at 4:25 p.m. ET: AT&T provided Ars with a statement apologizing for the confusing email to customers. "This email was one of many that was planned to keep customers informed about the shutdown of our 3G network in early 2022," said AT&T. "It should include the date when certain devices did not We apologize for any ambiguities that may have caused this and will be clearer in future updates. " AT&T did not answer our questions about how many people the email went to and why it appeared to go to some customers who have 4G phones that support HD Voice.

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