Same problem here! T-Mobile store was convinced it was a faulty phone, gave me another one and I'm having the same trouble. I live in Knoxville, TN. Not a major metropolis, but definitely not rural. It's not an issue with a tower or ALL phones would be affected, not just the 5. T-Mobile's 2G/EDGE service is on Band II PCS 1900. Apple produced x amount of iPhone 5 for T-Mobile with Band IV AWS 1700 receivers so they could not only pick up Band 4 LTE, but T-Mobile's HSPA+42 4G service as well. This tells me that it's an issue with the iPhone 5 and not the network. Common sense tells us that f you're in a "dark green, green, or even light green" area, you should be picking up T-Mobile's AWS 1700 frequency provided the iPhone's new antenna is functioning properly. We should NEVER drop into EDGE.
As you can see, all of my town is in some shade of green, meaning all of Knoxville is in the range of T-Mobile's AWS frequency, which supports HSPA+ 4G. The yellow is PCS 1900, T-Moble's 2G/EDGE frequency. If your iPhone 5 was purchased from AT&T, an Apple Store, or anywhere other than directly through T-Mobile, it does NOT pick up the AWS band. BUT those of us who bought our iPhone 5 from T-Mobile has that AWS support built-in, allegedly, from Apple so that we can enjoy 4G data speeds with our device on T-Mobile's network. In closing, if your area is nice and green like mine, there's absolutely ZERO excuse as to why your iPhone 5 is in EDGE unless EVERY device (Nexus 4, Galaxy S, etc.) is as well.
I am having the same issue in Chicago. I never had this problem with my previous phone which had 42Mbit 4G. It never reverted back to EDGE. I wish I could just disable EDGE altogether. It's rather annoying.
Also - maybe I am grasping at straws here but - IN THEORY - shouldn't the E really be 4G? I mean didn't T-Mobile make a massive refarm of the 1900 mhz spectrum? That would mean those towers were mostly converted from GPRS/EDGE to HSPA+ towers. I thought the whole point of the refarm was to phase 2G down to like 5%-10% of the specrtum and have HSPA+ take over most of that 1900mhz spectrum so that the 1700/2100 AWS was free'd up to become LTE.
Call me crazy but that would mean they really didn't finish refarming downtown Chicago.... right? Not complaining but again - my older phone got HSPA+42 all over this building and never dropped down to EDGE. If I didn't hate android so much I would not be so annoyed. I would hope that the iPhone experience on Tmo would be far superior than android.
I have the same problem with a new T-mobile iphone 5 in the San Francisco area (Marin County).
(see map and my location at link)
The coverage shows dark green but the data connection alternates between 4G and E every few minutes - but mostly E. The 4G mode is slow and in E mode pages never load - the progress bar freezes.
The same thing happens in a nearby town - San Rafael. T-mobile asked me to turn off LTE which helped in some regions, but there still appear to be many "excellent" rated areas that only provide Edge service.
Cell phone service is ok, but not great. Data service has been very poor. I hope they get it fixed soon. Otherwise this is not going to work for me.
date: July 12, 2013