T-Mobile already has one of the top rated networks, but is constantly working to make it even better. Over the next several months, T-Mobile will focus on evolving our network through three major initiatives:
- Reallocating some of our 1900 MHz spectrum from 2G (EDGE) technology to 4G HSPA+
- Upgrading existing equipment on our towers to improve coverage and reliability
- Launching 4G LTE in 2013
Full list of modernized markets
- Anaheim. CA
- Ann Arbor, MI
- Atlanta, GA
- Austin, TX
- Baltimore, MD
- Boston, MA
- Cambridge, MA
- Chicago, IL
- Dallas, TX
- Denver, CO
- Detroit, MI
- Fort Worth, TX
- Fresno, CA
- Ft. Lauderdale, FL
- Houston, TX
- Kansas City, KS
- Las Vegas, NV
- Los Angeles, CA
- Mesa, AZ
- Miami, FL
- Minneapolis, MN
- Modesto, CA
- New York, NY
- Newark, NJ
- Oakland, CA
- Orlando, FL
- Philadelphia, PA
- Phoenix, AZ
- Providence, RI
- Reno, NV
- Richmond, VA
- Sacramento, CA
- San Antonio, TX
- San Diego, CA
- San Francisco, CA
- Seattle, WA
- Silicon Valley, CA
- Springfield, MA
- Stockton, CA
- Tampa, FL
- Tucson, AZ
- Virginia Beach, VA
- Warren, MI
- Washington, D.C.
Benefits of modernizing our network
Approximately 90% of our network traffic is on our 3G and 4G bands (1700 MHz and 2100 MHz), which is leaving our 2G bands (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) underused. To help make best use of our 2G bands, we will be re-farming the excess 1900 MHz spectrum from EDGE technology to HSPA+. This will not eliminate 2G 1900 coverage in an area, but will free up some of that spectrum for 4G services.
Benefits of the reallocation includes:
- Increased 4G capacity
- Better support for increased data use
- Smoother connections and fewer dropped calls
- Continued 2G access for legacy devices
- Improved performance for unlocked iPhones on our network
T-Mobile will be improving approximately 37,000 cell sites over the next 18 months. These upgrades include:
- Replacing copper lines with fiber optic lines
- Adding new radios
- Moving ground equipment to the top of towers
- Adding new antennas
These changes will provide improved voice and data coverage and a 20 percent improvement to indoor coverage.
T-Mobile will be installing the newest available software, which is a more stable technology and easily upgradeable compared to the technology used by Verizon or AT&T.
This technology will allow us to offer 4G LTE to you in the second half of 2013 and continue providing an increasingly better mobile telecommunications experience in the coming years.
- Coverage in the majority of the top 50 markets by the end of 2013
- More efficient network with better connections, improved coverage, fewer dropped calls, and room for growth
- Data apps that provide video calling and Mobile TV that are faster than current speeds
Possible side effects of modernizing our network
As engineers make changes to spectrum allocation and cell sites, customers in that area may experience temporary service degradation.
Why would this impact my service?
Before HSPA+ can be deployed on a block of T-Mobile’s 1900 MHz spectrum, the 2G traffic must first be reduced. This does not decrease T-Mobile’s 2G footprint, but it does limit the amount of calls and data the remaining 2G network can handle at once. In most areas, customers will not notice a difference in their service.
What options do I have if I am impacted by the reallocation?
Due to the reduction in 2G capacity, some 2G devices may experience additional congestion. Upgrading to a 4G-capable device or taking advantage of T-Mobile's Wi-Fi calling may help to improve service and will bring the additional benefits of 4G service.
If you have a 3G or 4G device in these areas, you will generally be unaffected by the reallocation. There may be some rare cases where you have strong 2G service but weak 3G or 4G service in your home. If the 2G network in that area is at capacity, you may see the device “ping-ponging” back and forth between 2G and 3G or 4G, possibly causing some of the below issues:
- Dropped calls
- Outbound calls resulting in a “network busy” error
- Incoming calls routing straight to voicemail
- Slower data connections
- Delayed SMS or MMS delivery
We apologize for the inconvenience the reallocation is causing while we modernize T-Mobile’s network. Taking advantage of T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi calling feature or a Signal Booster (if eligible) may help to improve the service while we continue working to modernize our network.
Why would this impact my service?
These are significant upgrades requiring each tower be taken offline for a short period of time while Engineering installs the necessary hardware. Usually, the towers are only offline late at night in order to minimize the impact. In most cases, you are covered by multiple towers and will not notice when a single site is being worked on. However you may experience degraded service temporarily.
What options do I have if I am affected by the upgrades?
While a tower is being upgraded, if you are its surrounding area, you may periodically experience call degration. This is only temporary and in most cases will be rectified quickly. Taking advantage of T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi calling feature may help to improve your service while we continue working to modernize our network.
What is required for refarming, and how long will that take?
Less than 50% of Voice and 90% of data already on AWS liberating PCS for refarming. This is a complicated process, but it's underway. T-Mobile currently has launched 4G coverage in the 1900 MHz band in several cities including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, and Washington DC. We will announce additional cities once we reach a critical mass of sites and the benefits reach a broad area of customers. T-Mobile plans to launch 4G HSPA+ service in the 1900 MHz band to cover 200 million Americans by the end of 2013.
You’ve launched 4G in 1900 MHz in several markets. What benefits are you seeing?
Network modernization trials in both East and West coast cities have shown improved signal quality, up to a 33% increase in HSPA+ data speeds as well as improved in-building coverage. We’ve also seen some very happy iPhone users that have blogged about it! Once T-Mobile has completed its network modernization, some BYOD devices will perform up to 70% faster on the T-Mobile network than on other networks.
I heard you’ve started to refarm your 1900 MHz spectrum. Where is the refarm taking place?
Once we install new equipment at cell sites in many top markets, we’re expanding our 4G service to our iPhone friendly 1900 MHz band. As we do so, “speed sightings” will occur before we reach a critical mass of sites and the benefits reach a broad area of customers in new cities and they are officially launched. T-Mobile will cover 200 million Americans with 4G service in the 1900 MHz band in 2013.
Are you re-farming 1900 MHz spectrum for interoperability with the iPhone?
No. Our primary objective with this effort is to pave the way for the deployment of LTE in our AWS spectrum this year. The iPhone compatibility is a nice side-benefit and we intend to capitalize on it.
What will the speed benefit be for iPhone customers on T-Mobiles refarmed network?
Once T-Mobile has completed its network modernization, we expect some BYOD devices will perform up to 70% faster on the T-Mobile network than on other networks
Why are you late to the game with LTE?
It’s quite the contrary. We see ourselves launching LTE services at a great time in terms of the technology’s maturity – both infrastructure (Radio and Core network), software and tools, as well as devices. We will come to market with LTE at a time when the price points on LTE phones will be coming down and the capability of the phones (e.g. battery life) will be coming up, so just when LTE might be entering its “sweet spot.”
In the meantime, we have a very capable HSPA+ 42 network, which is competitive with current LTE networks. T-Mobile’s current 4G network beat Verizon’s LTE network in download speeds in 11 cities across the country and had top download speed in four according to PC Magazine Fastest Mobile Networks Test, June 2012. In addition, T-Mobile won for fastest speeds in rural/suburban America.
When do you plan to launch LTE?
We plan to reach 200 million Americans with LTE by the end of 2013.
In which cities will T-Mobile launch LTE in 2013?
We are not announcing cities at this time. T-Mobile plans to reach broad deployment of LTE in 2013 reaching more than 200M people by the end of next year.