T-Mobile USA launches rapid LTE expansion across US

T-Mobile USA launches rapid LTE expansion across US

Summary: The fourth largest US cellular networks flips the LTE switch on seven US cities, as it catches up with its nearest rivals in the cellular space.

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NEW YORK — T-Mobile is ramping up its 4G LTE efforts across the US, the company announced today.

john-tmob
T-Mobile CEO John Legere announces a massive LTE expansion across the US (Credit: CNET)

The LTE expansion will see a boost to seven US cities: Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City,Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Jose, Calif., and Washington, D.C. The firm said it will reach 100 million US residents by mid-2013, and 200 million US residents by the end of the year.

This is, according to T-Mobile chief executive officer John Legere, before T-Mobile receives complementary spectrum from the MetroPCS deal, set to close by mid-2013..

While other carriers have typically opened up their LTE services in smaller towns and cities to test their coverage and networks, T-Mobile is going in with the big guns by offering LTE services in the eight metropolitan hearts of the US. 

Early indications suggest the LTE network is around 25Mbps, according to CNET, but T-Mobile said it is as high as 60Mbps.

The LTE-enabled iPhone 5 has also arrived on the network to show off the firm's flagship device next-generation speeds. Also included in T-Mobile's LTE launch are the BlackBerry Z10 — which launched nationwide this week — and the Samsung Galaxy S4; they will cost $99 each.

T-Mobile is smaller in subscriber base than AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, and it has fallen behind the times by failing to keep up to speed with others' next-generation LTE networks. Lacking an iPhone on the mobile roster also hurt the firm in the long run. 

The fourth largest US cell network finally opened chapter two today by getting up to speed with its rivals. 

T-Mobile started rolling out updates to Samsung Galaxy Note 2 smartphones last week, enabling support for the firm's 4G LTE network. 

In the not so distant past, T-Mobile used its 1,700MHz spectrum for 3G and HSPA+ for its 4G service, while using its 1,900MHz spectrum for slower 2G (GPRS) and 2.5 (EDGE) services. T-Mobile is moving  its 3G and HSPA+ services to the 1,900MHz band, which will free up space on the other side of the spectrum net, and at the same time make it easier for T-Mobile customers to tap into AT&T's larger 3G and HSPA+ network and vice-versa when roaming.

This also means that as T-Mobile plans to use the 1,700MHz spectrum for 4G LTE services, some AT&T markets will allow customers to dip into T-Mobile's network.

While the expansion to seven cities is a good start for T-Mobile, it still has a long way before it can catch up to even Sprint, its closest rival in the cell subscriber chain. 

Topics: 4G, Networking, Smartphones

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17 comments
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  • Unimpressed!

    In my opinion quality network service is king. I'm willing to pay for quality service. T-Mobile doesn't provide a good quality service. The reason I know this is because I "was" a loyal T-Mobile customer for 11 years in a smaller community in Missouri. Not one time in 11 years did T-Mobile upgrade their 2G network in our area. I paid an ETF to leave in November 2012 for Sprint who has LTE service in my area. I've had no regrets leaving for Sprint. Sprint could provide a superior quality network service that T-Mobile could not. T-Mobile will always cater to the larger cities and will never upgrade their rural areas for its customers. It may utimately cost them because people do travel outside the larger cities and when they do they will realize quickly what 2G network looks like!
    Ranpat86@...
    • Exactly

      What 2G network OR LESS looks like. I live in the largest metropolitan area in Oregon (probably not saying a whole lot for some, but...) and I still have dead spots with T-Mobile. In busy parts of town. I've been with T-Mobile for nearly 8 years, and it's still the same dead spots as when I was first a customer. I find this unconscionable. In those 8 years, they have not made one move to boost my reception at all. And just a quick look at T-Mo's coverage map clearly demonstrates that they are not interested in serving the Pacific Northwest (or even much of the West Coast, for that matter). All of the strong coverage is in the Mid-west and East Coast.

      THIS is the biggest reason T-Mo is shedding customers. NOT because they didn't have the iPhone, or an LTE network. They're "4G" is plenty fast for me, when I can get it. I just can't get it in 80% of the places I go every day. And that's on an average work day, sticking around town. T-Mobile seems to think that no one travels to different parts of the state or country. And, like you said, as soon as they do, they quickly realize how horrible the coverage actually is.

      This will be my last year with T-Mobile. I haven't really checked, but I'm imagining that the "no contract" schtick only applies to new sign-ups. So I still have to wait out my 2-year contract. But as soon as it's over, I, too, will defect. Sure, T-Mobile's rates are nice and low (or, rather, where they rest of the industry truly should be, instead of the overly inflated prices everyone is charging now). But what good are cheap rates if you can't even use your phone when you would like to (or worse, when you NEED to).
      csteinola
      • Ever hear of the laws of physics?

        @csteinola...
        Dead zones in Oregon you think is t-Mobiles exclusive domain? We used "ALL the above" in Oregon, AT&t Sprint, T-Mobile etc.. The hilly country of Oregon Washington, Idaho and Alaska , they don't work well with LINE of SIGHT broadcast technologies such as Cellular. You get some hick who won't lease out his hilltop to them for a cell tower, you get a dead zone, you get a military reserve, you get a dead zone, MANY things can block the equal grid network design of cell towers. Works GREAT in the Plains States, essentially flatlands. Even in Southern Arizona, cell works reasonably OK, but not in the north where mountain tops are often NOT Private lands but USDA, and thus most often kept free of cell towers. You speak of how T-Mobile should understand people get out of the basic city zones, well YOU try the same. accept that part of the things you give UP for living in Oregon is flat land QOS and capability. I own a 70,000 hectare farm in Ukraine, have given leases to the Ukrainian government for 173 cell towers, in order to keep the community UP with better service, but far too many Americans will not do so. In our parts of Europe, almost no one USES contract services. Prepaid is the way there.. almost exclusively. . You buy your phone at anything from a small street-corner vendor to a major mega market, buy your sim-card minutes the same way, but not always in the same place. There's virtually NO 4g LTE. TOO unreliable. So when I am in USA, i am happy for the service, when available, but i sure as heck can manage without it, and without the AT&T price tag that NEVER is the same from day to day. They have "creative billing" AKA, they create a bill for you, and the numbers are purely magic, conjured up from the thin air, based on your LTE consumption... T-Mobile has always offered perfectly good service in 43 of the 50 states our airline has depots in, thank you!. I'd rather not pay for trying to have a cell tower every square mile thus making a mountain top need to be blown away, a forest cut down or my Rocky Mountain West be replaced with Iowa or Texas...I understand that when in hill country i won't ALWAYS have service.. So many Americans expect the world belongs to them as an individual and THEY make the rules.. This planet was not designed with your cell needs in mind..so we have mountains and valleys and trees that block cells sometimes ;-)
        LyonsAire CEO
      • T-Mobile worked better than AT&T on a recent trip.

        My T-Mobile service was much better than AT&T. As others have noted coverage is better in some areas for some carriers and not poor in others compared to other carriers. Get what works for you in the place you go.
        ye
      • You can migrate to the value plan and then all contract will end at the end of the year
        Nathan Naber
    • Your mileage may vary

      Yeah, 2G service is slow, but when I looked at Sprint, the 2mb/s trottling speeds didn't make it 4G service-- its not 4G speeds. Is this still the situation?

      I tried a prepaid Sprint plan once. It didn't work were I lived. There was no reason to sign a contract with sprint when the 30 day prepaid "trial" was up, and I would have to pay a contract cancellation fee too!

      I'll give TMobile LTE a try next. I get speeds close to cable-modem on my laptop modem, and it looks like they built a network in the past year just for the iPhone. They seem pretty quick to upgrade their network just for Apple.
      VernonDozier
    • What's bad for you not bad for others...

      Just goes to show that depending on where you are service can be better or worse than other carriers. I live in Columbus, Ohio. I was a Sprint customer for years and finally got so fed up with ridiculously poor service I dropped them and went with T-Mobile. My service on 4g was almost never as fast as Tmo's 3g service is. Service would completely disappear in various places around town with Sprint. I have to travel away from the city before Tmo wants to fade. Being a delivery driver I'm in a unique position to really push the coverage envelope for any carrier in my area. T-Mobile just wipes the floor with Sprint here. Your city may not fair as well but that's how it is with cellular networks.
      i_guana
  • Unimpressed!

    In my opinion quality network service is king. I'm willing to pay for quality service. T-Mobile doesn't provide a good quality service. The reason I know this is because I "was" a loyal T-Mobile customer for 11 years in a smaller community in Missouri. Not one time in 11 years did T-Mobile upgrade their 2G network in our area. I paid an ETF to leave in November 2012 for Sprint who has LTE service in my area. I've had no regrets leaving for Sprint. Sprint could provide a superior quality network service that T-Mobile could not. T-Mobile will always cater to the larger cities and will never upgrade their rural areas for its customers. It may utimately cost them because people do travel outside the larger cities and when they do they will realize quickly what 2G network looks like!
    Ranpat86@...
    • I was the opposite

      I left Sprint for Verizon about 6-8 years ago, and never looked back. Why? Because Sprint horribly oversold their network in my area (Columbus, OH). I would hit dead spots all over town, and in busy areas I was often not able to make or receive a call though I had full signal strength. Thankfully I was able to get out of my contract without paying a fee when I tripped up some schlep and got him to say so over the phone.
      trybble1
      • Completely Understand

        Your phone is only as good as the service provided. T-Mobile was to me like Sprint was for you in Columbus, OH. I had to stand close to a window in order to get reception to talk. Of course T-Mobile didn't care if I didn't have signal. After about 6 months complaining and geting absolutely anywhere I decided it was time to leave.
        Ranpat86@...
        • great service

          I live in Moreno Valley California and have great service downloads up to 23mbps but average 15mbps hardly any Dead spots. Just got the blackberry z10 and services have greatly improved
          Nathan Naber
    • If Quality is King...

      I will take T-Mobile over any of the other three....why? Because the phone works as a phone everywhere I go.

      With the other three, you MIGHT get a faster connection speed, IF you can get connected and forget about calling someone in the places I go.

      Just goes to show that different carriers work differently in different areas.
      cmwade1977
  • Benefit of LTE?

    I know LTE offers faster speeds however I'm not sure how it translates into a better smart phone experience. I have T-Mobie now and the HSPA+ speeds seem to be more than adequete. I'm interested in hearing what the increased speed of LTE will bring to my smart phone exprience.
    ye
    • I used to think LTE was an unneeded service

      But now occasionally when I drop to 3G or a bad area and realize that I need to stay put so that large image gets emailed I see how nice LTE is. Things happen in seconds instead of minutes.

      I'm on VZW and simultaneous Talk and data only works in 4G mode so occasionally in 3g I have to wait on making the call regarding the email I'm sending.
      LarsDennert
      • I'm not claiming it is unneeded.

        I'm just questioning the value, at least for the time being, of what it offers. My HSPA+ speeds approach 20Mbps...that has been plenty fast to do everything I need on my phone. What does more speed gain me?
        ye
    • 3G Speed vs. LTE

      The difference between 3G and LTE speeds on Sprint is significant. 3G speed is still fast and it works for me but 2G speeds just does not work in today's world. T-Mobile only has 2G outside the major cities. All I was asking for from T-Mobile was just to upgrade to 3G speeds. T-Mobile has left the rural areas out of the upgrade game for years. At least Sprint, AT&T and Verizon upgrade their rural areas to at least 3G as far as I can tell. Can't say the same or T-Mobile!
      Ranpat86@...
  • The point

    Guys, I think you missed the point. Those of you living in 2G areas, will soon get 3g/4g HSPA+ speeds, since T-MO is moving 3G/4G to the former 2G spectrum. When they free old 3g/4g spectrum, they will put LTE into that (1700). With this set up, T-Mo spectrum will be the same as AT&T, and that will make 1. Phones interchangeable, 2. Easier to roam from T-Mo to AT&T and and back. Good times are coming for t-mo users...
    bmaster1962