T-Mobile is moving relatively quickly to have all phones on its network support voice over LTE. Google Fi, as an MVNO, has to follow this decision and is encouraging customers with older phones to upgrade before next month through a promotional credit.

In requiring VoLTE, carriers can shutdown legacy 3G networks, while customers get noticeably better call quality as the conversation is happening over data.

Google Fi will stop activating (or reactivating) phones that lack VoLTE support in January. If users need to reset their phone for whatever reason, they will not be able to regain cellular connectivity. As such, they’d have to unexpectedly order a new device and could be without service until then.

Existing devices will continue to work in the “near term,” but no hard date is available.

This follows a report in July detailing T-Mobile’s plans. The carrier, which comprises the majority of Fi’s network, stopped activating non-VoLTE devices earlier this year ahead of a requirement that all phones next month support the standard. 

Yesterday, Google emailed customers using phones that don’t support VoLTE about this upcoming change. To encourage upgrades, Fi is offering a $100 bill credit if they purchase a new phone from the first-party store and activate before December 31.

Google told us that subscribers with non-VoLTE compatible devices that were active on Fi as of December 3 are eligible for this promotion. They must have received an email from the MVNO to proceed.

That amount is applied to their monthly fee and can be combined with existing holiday deals. The Fi store currently offers the Pixel 4a, 4a 5G, and 5, as well as Samsung flagships and budget Motorola devices that are Designed for Fi.

Of course, subscribers can just go out and buy their own device. Most modern phones released and sold in the US over the past few years support VoLTE.

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com