T-Mobile closes deal for 700MHz spectrum, reiterates commitment to LTE rollout

T-Mobile CEO John Legere

T-Mobile has finally closed a deal to acquire highly-valuable 700MHz spectrum from Verizon, enabling the next wave of network upgrades for the carrier. In the wireless world not all spectrum is created equal, with lower frequencies being more desirable because they travel further distances and better penetrate buildings. Both of these attributes are badly needed on T-Mobile's network as it traditionally operates on much higher frequencies between 1700 and 2100MHz, and T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray has a good idea of what they will do with it.

Thew newly-acquired spectrum holdings will improve T-Mobile's LTE coverage in nine of the top 10 and 21 of the top 30 metro areas in the country, simply building on what's already available. These markets include notable cities like New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami, Washington D.C. and Detroit. It will also help T-Mobile expand the 10+10MHz networks it currently deploys in many markets to higher 15+15 or even 20+20MHz for even faster LTE speeds.

Further, the 700MHz spectrum will help push T-Mobile towards its goal of moving all EDGE coverage around the country straight to LTE. As of March T-Mobile claimed it could have half of its 2G coverage converted to LTE by the end of the year, and now the combination of 700 and 1900MHz spectrum can push that even further. At this point having complete nationwide coverage — both in the city and in rural areas — should be the goal, and T-Mobile seems to be taking that initiative seriously.

Ray says that customers will start seeing the benefits of the 700MHz acquisition by the end of the year — darn fast, but not unexpected when compared to T-Mobile's other recent network improvements.

Source: T-Mobile


Reader comments

T-Mobile closes deal for 700MHz spectrum, reiterates commitment to LTE rollout


It doesn't use all of it. 700 Mhz is broken up into blocks covering different ranges of the band. ATT uses a block, Verizon uses another, etc... Nobody has control over all of the 700 mhz.

Yeah. I was under the apparently wrong impression that a carrier owned (or rather leased) a portion of the spectrum. I didn't realize they had it split even within a band.

Here's a thought. Is this part of what Verizon bought that is under 47 CFR 27.16? Which would mean TMO could no longer lock to carrier... This could be doubly good for TMO customers.

Probably but you typically lose LTE moving a phone from carrier. IPhone is the only one I know which can move around. It's chip covers most all US carrier frequencies. Most all other phones are designed specific to the carrier. Just because a phone lists 700 mhz doesn't mean it will work. If it's sold at Verizon it's tuned to block C of 700 mhz. T-Mo bought block A. ATT works on block B.

Yes - I've put a couple 822s on ATT's network with Straight Talk SIMs. But I'm wondering if this could be the start of interoperability.

when you put your 822's on straight talk did you have any issues? asking because i am getting the ativ se, currently use the ativ s on ST(at&t sim) and would love to use the SE on straight talk as well. thanks @hopmedic

It took the Nokia access point ago, so not sure if the Samsung can work out if the needed settings are available or not, but if you look in the forums and search for 822 Straight Talk there's a thread about it in the 822 forum.

Good! I'm glad T-Mobile is finally investing in some 700 Mhz spectrum because they currently suck in NYC and this will help them out tremendously!

They "suck in NYC..." Really? I've recorded LTE speeds over 30Mbps down on my 920 in the City. Even my 810 on 4G recently got pretty good speeds in Queens.

Sprint? Really? That's funny because I have a friend who's on Sprint and he's always complaining to me that he doesn't even get service in his room in his own house.

I know lots of 2G zones in the city and in Westchester geez... Stay away stay away dead shots all over.

I was with T-Mobile for a year and I couldn't wait to switch back to AT&T. Speeds were good until I walked into a building in downtown Manhattan with 2 ft. thick concrete walls where I was lucky to even get one bar of 2G. I live in northern Queens and they sucked there as well. No service at my house unless I walked outside or was close to a window. They sucked in Westchester too where my brother lives and they suck in Long Island where I visit friends.

The 700 mhz spectrum is exactly what they need to compete for longer distances and building penetration. I have no problem unlocking phones from AT&T or buying unlocked/unbranded phones and T-Mobile's plans are actually really great with international data included but they just can't compete with AT&T. Even Verizon is starting to get bad with their overcrowded and slower LTE network. AT&T's network is really solid in the tri-state area and you get what you pay for.

It all depends where you are. I travel around enough to find that each network is tops in some areas, and can bottom out as the worst 100 miles away.

There indoor coverage is pretty awful here in South Florida inside my home. At work its pretty decent but inside, no LTE with 1 bar on 3G.

Maybe I will look at them again in a few years.

In the meantime I am enjoying the much better coverage I am now getting from AIO.  T-Mobile has just been awful in my part of California lately.  And so far they have been getting worse, not better.

Why am I not at all surprised that you made a comment like that? Claiming you'll "look into them" in some time, yet pimping AIO while going on to say how bad T-Mobile is. Contradicting yourself much?

Nope.  I enjoy tethering my friends who are still on T-Mobile to my phone so they can still use theirs.  Some of them are switching soon, others are stuck for a while.

But I will go wherever I get the most bang for the buck. I am not so naieve that I don't realize that the industry is in a constant state of change and one upmanship.  IF T-Mobile can bring the value (and coverage, though I am skeptical) back I will look at them again.  It is easy when you live with no contracts and no EIP.

AIOs new group discounts did have me considering switching from T-mobile, especially since network is better on trips. But I'll stick with T-mobile for now since its only about $2 extra per line for me and I get twice the high speed data.

Maybe if their coverage gets even better, and offers GOOD and NEW windows phones (925 and 8X are old) and good support, then I might switch...

and get even less of their already poor coverage with carrier constrained radios if you aren't careful.

If you do research before you get an unlocked phone and make sure the phones are equipped with the correct tmo bands (and there are quite a good selection of phones that make use of the tmo bands)... Then you would have no problem

Unlocked is torture since they don't use the same bands. I had a 920 and I had edge all the damn time. I couldn't even listen to Pandora or watch Dailymotion (trying not support any Google products).

The 925 it's probably the best looking phone Nokia has released in a long time. The only true flaw memory 16GB horrible and no SD slot. Give me a 5" 935 lol with SD slot faster HW better camera and I'll be a happy camper.

Agree with you. I have a 521 but I'd like a little bigger screen yet seems the bigger ones don't have SD card (at least for T-Mobile). 

Why would Microsoft give you a phone with SD storage, when they have a cloud service that they spent 10s of Millions developing? Most likely, you wont see another Lumia with SD card access. They know that youll instead just start using onedrive, and then youll need more space, so youll buy more onedrive space...

Posted via the WPC App for Android!

From WP fans. Always wishing yet hardly receive. That's why I switched to att. So far they've been good to me. Regarding the price, I haven't seen a huge difference.

Gotcha. I am pleased that AT&T has been working well for you. For me, AT&T royally screwed me over so I am kind of a anti-AT&T quest right now. I was most recently with Sprint but I also moved into a rural area and Sprint is basically nowhere but T-Mobile is pretty strong. Also, T-Mobile does have better WP handsets than Sprint so that causes me to rejoice somewhat.

Honesty though, I think tmo made them better. Got no choice but to compete. Still I won't go back. Rev eruption is poor WP handset is poor.

I'm really debating on leaving Sprint for TMob. If they come out with a highend WP soon, I just may take the leap

I have the same question (but in LA). I'm looking at my T-Mobile 925 box right now, and it says: "LTE Bands II: (1900), IV (1700/2100) V (850), XVII (700)." This is also similarly supported on the 925 specs page of GSM Arena: "LTE 700 / 850 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 - RM-893" here http://www.gsmarena.com/nokia_lumia_925-5451.php

I'm really hoping for better coverage indoors. Improving their Wi-Fi calling app would help a lot too.

OK, I apologize and it does have LTE 700. T-Mobile's specs do list LTE band 17 ( http://www.t-mobile.com/cell-phones/nokia-lumia-925.html ) but there's a problem. Band 17 is designated for the 700 mhz lower blocks B and C and is compatible with AT&T's LTE network. The 700 mhz that T-Mobile bought from Verizon is lower block A and that is designated band 12, therefore, not compatible. What makes it even more confusing is that band 17 (lower B & C blocks) is actually a subset of band 12 (lower A, B & C blocks) where it's only missing the A block that T-mobile plans to build a new network on.

Furthermore, those blocks are the lower blocks of the 700 mhz frequency. Verizon's LTE network runs on the upper blocks of the 700 mhz frequency which is why Verizon's LTE network and AT&T's network are also incompatible. Verizon's LTE network solely runs on the upper blocks of the 700 mhz frequency which is why they were able to sell the lower 700 mhz A block to T-Mobile. If Verizon built out a network based on the lower 700 mhz A block, that would have created two separate LTE networks for Verizon which is not feasible.

TL;DR... T-Mobile sucks and your phone is not compatible! Capiche?

The spectrum TMOUS got is Band 12 LTE (750). The only phones on the market right now that wull support it when they turn on Band 12 are from US Cellular as they are also using Band 12. 

Right... US Cellular devices will actually be compatible with both T-Mobile's new and AT&T's existing LTE networks.

It's amazing how many people don't bother to look at the FCC website and actually see what phones support what bands. This isn't rocket science, and at this point anyone chasing after a Band 12 LTE phone is a fool. 

The RM-893 that T-Mobile sells 100% has the 700 band. It's penta-band 3g and quad-band LTE... It should take advantage of the updated network. 

You said the 925 had no 700 band, it does. What band, whether 12 or not, is a completely different discussion...

And I just edited my post to apologize for my mistake. But if you read my ENTIRE post you'd know that it is still not compatible which is relevant to @accursedvenom's question.

Wrong, wrong wrong-it's very relevant. That's one of the reasons why AT&T and Verizon couldn't interoperate was the LTE bad issue-both carriers decided thay they would not allow roaming on each other's LTE networks, even though from a technical standpoint it was no issue at all.  

I feel for that poor unsuspecting girl on the back of the motorcycle... That guy is a psycho! He's got the crazy eyes.

Wi-Fi calling is ok. They need to fix it so that if I get an mms, it comes through with no issues. I can't get pictures if Wi-Fi calling is set to preferred.
@crav4speed, where are you seeing that tmobile got block a? Read the article again and see no mention of that anywhere.