For many years I've had great coverage when visiting Stoughton, WI (53589), better than my home area in IL.
A few months ago I first observed a weird problem in which I had full bars on my phone, but could not make or receive voice calls. I got a great LTE signal, internet connection and could surf the web just fine.
I contacted T-mobile support when I got home to IL (couldn't make a call while in the trouble area), and chalked it up to network problems that day.
The next time I was in that area, I again could not make or receive calls on my iPhone 5s, yet could make calls from a borrowed Alcatel Go Flip 3 (on my account).
So I called T-mobile support from the Alcatel phone, and was on the line with them for a long time, and the person finally said they were going to 'switch me to a different cell tower', and that I should power cycle my phone and then wait a couple hours, and it should work fine (this was in the 1-2 AM time period).
I knew this was a load of crap, as I worked in the cellular industry for 30 years as a software developer on the network side, cell site, and even handsets, but it was late a night, and I didn't have the incentive to give the person a hard time. Of course it was still not working the next morning.
When back in my home area, I called T-mobile support again, and explained the problem. This person, after a long time, said they compared the SIMs for the two phones I had used, and had 'normalized' them, and that everything should be fine then next time I was in that area.
So, the next time I was in the area, there was still no voice service. This time I put my iPhone into the 'Field Test Mode', and did some checking.
Saw great LTE signal strength, but absolutely no GSM 2G/3G signal (for a fleeting moment I detected a neighbor cell, but its signal was way way down in the mud). I did some research on my phone, and found that my iPhone 5s does not support Voice Over LTE, so with only an LTE signal, I was not going to be able to make or receive calls! (Why didn't T-mobile support tell me this? They knew what type of phone I was using.)
On my way home, I found that once I got a couple miles outside the Stoughton, WI city limits, I again had an adequate GSM signal, and could make voice calls.
Again, while back in my home area, I called T-mobile support, explained the situation, and asked why there had been no notification of the removal of 2G/3G service in that area, why there was no information on the T-mobile web site warning users of the removal of service. The response, after getting escalated a couple of levels, was that they were doing 'tower work' and replacing 2G/3G radios with 5G, and that typically users of affected phones that had mailing addresses within the affected area would get notified.
Ok, fine and good, but what about the T-mobile customer that doesn't live there, and is traveling through the area?
If I had a medical emergency while in that area, I would not be able to call for help, even though my phone says I've got great coverage, and would simply die.
T-mobile needs to notify ALL customers that 2G/3G service is being turned down NOW. They should put a 2G/3G coverage map on their web site (like the 4G/5G map that they so proudly display), and keep it updated as the coverage area shrinks.
The current lack of information shows a total disrespect for the lives of their customers.
Best answer by tmo_lauren
The 2g network has been being progressively decommissioned in order to free up other spectrum for newer technology. While there's plenty of information from sites other than ours explaining as much, it doesn't appear we have any direct documentation regarding this which definitely isn't ideal. I'm going to go ahead and find a content ticket regarding it, but ultimately some of the answers above explain what's happening.
It's been a gradual change which explains why some areas that have worked recently no longer, and it will continue to progress in that direction.
I agree there needs to be more readily available direct information and I'll be getting that feedback passed along.