T-Mobile USA December 13, 2012

T-Mobile-iPhoneOn Monday, we told you that T-Mobile was enhancing its 4G network in Atlanta, Seattle, and Minneapolis to provide access to its iPhone-compatible 1900 MHz spectrum for more users. Chief Technology Officer for T-Mobile USA Neville Ray announced more enhancements to the network today, including the roll out of more iPhone-compatible 4G HSPA+ to five major metro areas, such as: Chicago; Reno, Nev.; and Fresno, Sacramento and Southern Calif.

A spokesperson confirmed to us that the launch of the enhanced network in these new areas brings T-Mobile’s total covered for iPhone compatible 1900 MHz PCS spectrum to 100 million people.

Internal tests of unlocked iPhone 4S devices running over 4G (HSPA+) on our 1900 MHz network recorded on average 70% faster download speeds than iPhone 4S devices on AT&T’s network. Savings based on comparison of T-Mobile $69.99/month Unlimited Talk, Text and Data plan against AT&T Unlimited Talk, Text, and 3GB Smartphone Data plan.

T-Mobile also said more enhancements to the network are on the way to “Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, the New York metro area, Philadelphia, and San Diego,” with many customers already experiencing unlocked iPhone “speed sightings.”

A full list of areas included in the  rollout is below:

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T-Mobile USA May 17, 2012

T-Mobile USA February 23, 2012

T-Mobile USA executives are talking reinvigorated challenger strategy and the carrier’s Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray (whom we interviewed last month) just confirmed that its 4G network, being deployed in 2013, “will be compatible with a broader range of devices, including the iPhone.” He also warned T-Mobile “will continue to need more AWS spectrum to support a deeper LTE rollout.” Luckily, the carrier walked away from that failed AT&T merger with not only $3 billion but also some AWS spectrum.

Basically, in addition to its 1700MHz AWS band, the carrier will also use the 1900MHz band for HSPA+. This will result in a faster 84MBps HSPA+ service and iPhone compatibility because Apple’s handset utilizes the more common 1900MHz frequency band. Following the network reconfiguration, users of unlocked iPhones should be able to enjoy true 3G HSPA+ speeds on T-Mobile USA’s network.

Chief Executive Officer and President Philipp Humm stressed he wants his company known for “4G services, 4G devices and a great 4G network.” T-Mobile will re-launch its brand at some point and reposition as the Best Value in Wireless. As for the prospect of landing the iPhone this year, Humm said there is “nothing new to report,” and he argued such a deal would require “right terms” —a notion shared by U.S. Cellular.

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The nation’s fourth-largest wireless carrier T-Mobile USA just reported it lost 802,000 contract customers during the holiday quarter, causing revenues to dip 3.3-percent to $20.6 billion. For comparison, the company reported 186,000 net contract customer losses in the third quarter of 2011 and 251,000 in the year-ago quarter. The Deutsche Telekom-owned carrier put the blame for such a huge decline in customers and mindshare on Apple’s iPhone 4S that bypassed T-Mobile to launch last October on AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and regional carriers C Spire Wireless and Claro Puerto Rico, the largest Puerto Rican telecommunications services company.

A statement from Deutsche Telekom said:

For T-Mobile USA, the past year was characterized by significant challenges, particularly in the fourth quarter, following the market launch of the new Apple iPhone model by the three major national competitors in October. […] However, not carrying the iPhone led to a significant increase in contract deactivations in the fourth quarter of 2011. […] Sequentially, the decline in branded net contract customers was driven primarily by higher branded contract deactivations as a result of the launch of the iPhone 4S by three nationwide competitors in mid-October.

The Bellevue, Wash.-headquartered firm contemplated for far too long whether to invest big bucks into 4G LTE deployment, and it clung to a hopeful merger with AT&T to solve its capital investment issues. With that deal off the table now, the company is promising to launch 4G LTE service sometime next year, tapping $1.4 billion of its own investment, re-farmed frequencies, and extra spectrum acquired from AT&T.

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T-Mobile USA January 26, 2012

T-Mobile USA January 11, 2012

Update: Reports that T-Mobile knows Apple’s chipset roadmap are false I’ve confirmed with T-Mobile’s PR department.  Ray only said that Apple could choose to use Chips that are AWS compatible, which is obvious.

I had a few minutes this evening between Colbie Cailat songs at T-Mobile’s CES 2012 party to talk to CTO Neville Ray on what the future holds for T-Mobile since the AT&T merger is off. T-Mobile walked away with not only $3 billion but also some AWS spectrum from AT&T.

First, Ray is excited.  He talked like someone who has been imprisoned by the merger over the past year, unable to make any long term moves. T-Mobile is still evaluating its long-term options (like LTE) but there is a buzz in the air now.  While the parent company Deutsch Telekom gets the $3 billion payoff from AT&T, it seems that there will be big investment over the next few years in the T-Mobile USA subsidy.

On Dec. 19, T-Mobile’s official AT&T breakup release stated what —besides the $3 billion— T-Mobile would get:

As part of the break-up fee, T-Mobile USA will receive a large package of AWS mobile spectrum in 128 Cellular Market Areas (CMAs), including 12 of the top 20 markets (Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Phoenix, San Diego, Denver, Baltimore and Seattle).

The UMTS roaming agreement for the U.S. in T-Mobile USA’s favor has a term of over seven years and will allow the company to improve its footprint significantly among the U.S. population and offer its customers better broadband coverage for mobile communications services in the future. Population coverage will increase from 230 million potential customers at present to 280 million. As a result of the agreement with AT&T, coverage will be extended to many regions of the U.S. in which T-Mobile USA previously had neither its own high-speed mobile communications network nor the associated roaming agreements.

That spectrum will allow T-Mobile to light up HSPA+ radio frequency used by the iPhone’s 3G.

I asked Ray about the reports that claimed T-Mobile networks in the Northwest were already broadcasting 1900 MHz HSPA+.

Nevada, parts of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest are also seeing some pockets of 1900MHz spectrum refarming for HSPA+. There are other parts of the country T-Mobile can refarm the 1900MHz spectrum but, the focus is on the Pacific Northwest, Nevada, Utah and California for right now from what we’re told. We should emphasize and emphasize greatly that this post does not mean that all of the aforementioned areas are seeing this refarmed spectrum, just pockets inside those areas.

Ray said those networks were not officially lit up (perhaps some tower testing or AT&T roaming confusion happened).

Nevertheless, there is good news for those who want to use an iPhone on T-Mobile’s 3G network…

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