Iowa Network Coverage

jskoland

    I'm a new customer of T-Mobile, I switched over from Verizon. I still have a few days to try this network but so far things are not good. Does anyone have any information when all the towers that were once I-Wireless will be upgraded to T-Mobile's LTE network? Allow me to explain my issue. I have an iPhone X from Verizon, Model A1865. I have a T-Mobile tower exactly 2 miles away from my home, I get great signal but all I ever get is T-Mobile Edge. Once I get away from that tower and get closer to another T-Mobile tower by State Center, Iowa I get solid T-Mobile LTE. In 2018 I would think the Edge network would be gone. I just got back from the middle east and I seriously had better LTE service in the middle of the desert than I do in the United States. I would greatly appreciate any information on this.

     

    Thank you

      All replies

      • drnewcomb2

        Re: Iowa Network Coverage

        Iowa Wireless was a partnership between T-Mobile and Iowa Network Services, which was itself a joint venture of several Iowa landline phone companies. There seems to have been something disfunctional about the partnership and iWireless was not able to keep up with the times. So, T-Mobile bought out their partner and took over the network. They are currently in the process of integrating iWireless into T-Mobile's network but the upgrades take time. One issue with upgrading a GSM/EDGE site to LTE is obtaining backhaul that will keep up with LTE's data rate. It's easy to just jam some LTE cards into the radio rack under a tower but if the tower is backhauled by T1 copper, it will limited by the backhaul speed. Getting fiberoptic backhaul installed may take a year or more. Another issue is that in Iowa, US Cellular holds the 700A (band-12) license. This means that to have good rural low-band service, T-Mobile needs to deploy their recently acquired 600 MHz (band-71) licenses. Since, This is a lot to pull together all at once, while T-Mobile is also in the midst of massive upgrades throughout the rest of their network. What I'm getting at is that this may take a year or so. Iowa was not on the map of new 600 MHz coverage predicted by EOY18. I suspect that it will require replacing much of the old equipment currently installed at and on the towers.

        • jskoland

          Re: Iowa Network Coverage

          drnewcomb2, that is an awesome answer and makes complete sense to me. Let me ask another question. That particular tower I am referring to has US Cellular antennas on it. When I switch my phone to use US Cellular my signal drops down to one bar and I get zero data. What could be causing that issue?

            • drnewcomb2

              Re: Iowa Network Coverage

              Iowa is a market where LTE roaming is available on a certain carrier who might be headquartered in Chicago*. That's unrelated to the signal provided by T-Mobile. What you describe is probably just that the other carrier's LTE signal is just weak. Your T-Mobile SIM will prefer T-Mobile's signal unless you force the phone to roam by manually selecting another carrier. It's not always possible to force the phone to roam, as T-Mobile employs a technique called LAC-blocking to prevent customers from roaming in areas where T-Mobile deems it to be unnecessary.

               

              Anyway, long story short,  Iowa is a T-Mobile region that can expect big upgrades but maybe not before '19.  The bad news is that your iPhone X will be limited to mid-band T-Mobile service but may be able to fall back to roaming in areas that T-Mobile's signal does not reach.

               

              *T-Mobile employees aren't allowed to mention which carrier it is. This is why documents that formerly named US Cellular have disappeared from this site.

            • zakelj

              Re: Iowa Network Coverage

              We just returned from 5 days in northeast Iowa, where we were not able to get any coverage at all.  The T-Mobil coverage map says 4G "partner" coverage is available in that area.  We have 3 Samsung Galaxy 5 phones, and none of them would connect, even though we could often see 4 bars of signal availability.   Using wi-fi calling,  I talked with 3 different T-Mobil customer service reps.  The first 2 had never heard of Iowa and wondered if it was a country.  The third one really tried to be helpful but was still unable to get us connected.  As we drove back into Minnesota, our phones automatically lit up with ATT roaming coverage, indicating that the problem was not with the roaming settings on our phones.  It appears our lack of connection in Iowa was due to T-Mobil's poor "partner" arrangement in Iowa.

              • jskoland

                Re: Iowa Network Coverage

                I agree, something is definitely not working right in Iowa. I really don't want to go back to Verizon, I think T-Mobile has great potential but I also need to get service. Not really sure what to do. Continue to stay with and hope it gets better or cut my losses and go back to Verizon