Editorial: T-Mobile Needs To Focus On The Real Network Issue: The Large Swath Of 2G-Only Markets

After T-Mobile’s announcements last week, I spent some time over the weekend evaluating T-Mobile’s work over the last two years. We all remember how T-Mobile was effectively paralyzed by the attempted acquisition by AT&T in 2011, and how it really messed up the company. Initially, I felt that T-Mobile’s announcement of the modernization of its network throughout 2012 was a great plan. I was hopeful that this would finally mean that T-Mobile will bring its awesome HSPA+ network to its entire native footprint this year.

Obviously, that hasn’t happened. Instead, the large metropolitan markets were once again upgraded first. I understand why that happened. The larger markets offer a quicker and larger return on investment than the smaller ones. Smaller markets upgraded often have a high percentage of T-Mobile subscribers, so the return on investment was justifiably large enough to do it. It probably also helped to convince Apple to sign an agreement with T-Mobile to allow T-Mobile to carry Apple products with minimal changes required.

But T-Mobile needs to focus on its entire footprint for 2013. The vast majority of the largest markets have already received upgrades throughout 2012, and will certainly be part of the LTE deployment for the first half of 2013. However, T-Mobile has a very large footprint of markets that do not have access to any mobile broadband services above EDGE. Or worse, it relies principally on roaming to serve the area. While these markets are typically considered “small” markets, they do make up a rather significant portion of the population of the country. It is a bad idea for T-Mobile to continue ignoring them.

The entire states of West Virginia, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota have zero native coverage. Ostensibly, these markets are covered by the UMTS roaming agreement with AT&T that went active this year. Alaska has zero native coverage, but it served with roaming agreements with local GSM operators in some areas. Geographically, large amounts of Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Iowa, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and the New England area are not covered by a native network either. T-Mobile has spectrum licenses to deploy in these areas. For one reason or another, it has chosen not to. But T-Mobile needs to do something soon about those states, because it has a lot of spectrum that it paid a lot of money to get. If it doesn’t do something with them, it could lose those licenses at the end of the decade.

In the areas where T-Mobile does have a native network, most of it is 2G-only. A bit of it is still GPRS, but nearly all of the 2G network has EDGE now. With the major markets all modernized, T-Mobile needs to push forward in markets that have been neglected over the years.

Here’s a pair of example markets: Oxford, MS and Starkville, MS.

Oxford, MS is an interesting choice because it is surrounded by native 3G/4G coverage, but the area itself has only 2G coverage. According to FCC data, T-Mobile has at least 10MHz (maybe 15MHz) of PCS (1.9GHz, band 2) spectrum and 10MHz of AWS (1.7/2.1GHz, band 4) spectrum. It isn’t likely to get refarmed unless the entire subscriber base uses newer phones that can run entirely off of the 3G/4G network. Despite having one of the largest universities in the state and a diverse customer base, T-Mobile has not yet deployed any AWS service at all.

On the other hand, we have Starkville, MS. Starkville has at least 30MHz of PCS spectrum and 20MHz of AWS spectrum. Up until mid-November, it was a 2G only market. Like Oxford, it is a college town (home to Mississippi State University). While the official coverage maps have not been updated yet, Sensorly shows that Starkville does have 3G coverage now (and I’ve verified it is indeed active). I’ve even personally seen one of the cell sites being upgraded to the new modernized equipment this past weekend!

I brought up these two markets because they represent spectral situations that many 2G-only markets have (I’ve also been able to personally verify coverage accuracy there). The western half of the country is PCS-deficient, so more aggressive switchover to 3G service is required before refarming can happen. The eastern half is more often than not like Starkville, where it is AWS-deficient. The various deals T-Mobile has entered into this year (including the one to merge with MetroPCS) will improve the AWS situation in many of those areas. Not to mention, many markets have really old equipment up there. The equipment in place in Starkville and Oxford was put up by Powertel at the turn of the century. That makes it over ten years old! Equipment that old and suffering through natural disasters does not perform that well, either. These markets badly need the upgrades, and I’m certain that other areas are just like these.

T-Mobile’s most important task should not be deploying LTE, though that is something that needs to happen. Its biggest issue is that it has not deployed UMTS across its 2G-only footprint to drastically reduce the load on the 2G network so that capacity can be scaled down for M2M and 3G service can be lit up on PCS in as many markets as possible. T-Mobile has national access to AWS spectrum to deploy UMTS service, so it can do it. Granted, there are some markets that it is totally unfeasible to deploy UMTS service on PCS. That shouldn’t mean that T-Mobile should not deploy service on AWS. In all markets with that situation, there’s enough AWS spectrum to go around. Many of them can have both HSPA+ and LTE on it.

T-Mobile’s biggest (and most important task) for 2013 should be the elimination of 2G-only markets. Either through direct deployment or setting up a program similar to Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE in Rural America program to have other companies do it for them (which would establish reciprocal roaming and limited network sharing agreements), it needs to get done. While it is unfortunate that many rural carriers offer only CDMA or 2G GSM service, such a program by T-Mobile could encourage a switchover and a vast improvement in the UMTS coverage situation. It may even offer a path for more constrained carriers to deploy LTE who don’t want to deal with Verizon Wireless.

In any case, T-Mobile’s primary focus next year should be on upgrading its entire 2G-only footprint to 3G/4G service. That would give T-Mobile customers a better quality of service and allow for T-Mobile to reduce its overall costs by dramatically simplifying its physical network and using newer, more reliable equipment. T-Mobile and its subscribers would both be very happy when that happens.

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  • Winski

    So, has T-Mumble started on the east coast, working their way west? Uh, no…they just did Seattle… Hmmm.. WELL, that leaves the REST OF THE WEST COAST !!!!! 50,000,000 people… THAT’S a neglected market!!! I live in one of the most densely populated areas of the country THAT HAS CRAP COVERAGE -AT BEST

    • chris125

      you get what you pay for in this case…

      • Winski

        That’s a truly idiotic thing to say…

        • chris125

          I guess the truth is idiotic. Sorry you can’t face the facts

      • Joseph M.

        I’d pay a little more for T-Mobile if they had a better network. Hell, I already pay a LOT more for Verizon.

  • chris125

    I agree. i think tmo needs to put more of a focus on getting all their markets at least 3g first before jumping to “4g” yes it is nice to have more 4g markets but that is only a small percent of their overall coverage

  • Aurizen

    I agree, tmobile should upgrade their 2g to 3/4g an upgrade like that should have been with the network refarming.

  • Rudy Belova

    Oh, that UMTS roaming agreement? Forced throttling! DIALUP BABY!

  • Ummm… check out airportal.de for user submitted stats on which sites have been updated. There are more updates on the west coast than just seattle

    • T-Mobile is a joke

      Screw airportal. Why doesn’t T-Mobile have an up to date map with this info? One side of fan-boi mouth “go check airportal.” Other side of fan-boi mouth “airportal doesn’t show everything.”
      Perhaps T-mumble should get off their fat butt and put up a web page so their money paying customers can see what areas have already been done.

  • Tired of Tmo Un-Service

    I live 15 minutes outside of one of the most densely populated areas on the east coast. The only thing I’ve ever seen on my Tmo phone is 2G. If I need to go downtown then I can get 3G and 4G but I should be able to get it 15 minutes outside of downtown.
    Their network bites – it really is that simple. They talk and talk about this refarm but good luck finding out who is going to get the refarm, when we’re going to get the refarm and who already has the refarm.
    Oh yeah, check some airportal site. Because Tmo doesn’t even care enough to be bothered to add it to their web site.

    • Glad I live in Chicago. Enjoyin my 15-23mbps on average with the S II. Lmao!

    • Sounds like you’re complaining about iPhone 3G/4G coverage. We all know that is extremely spotty right now. This article is about 3G/4G for phones that are already compatible with T-Mobile’s network.

      • 3G refarm is a joke

        “Extremely spotty” – LOL. Try non-existent unless you live in downtown of a major city. You need to live downtown in order to get extremely spotty. Anywhere outside of downtown it’s non-existent. It’s so bad that T-mumble can’t even tell people what towers actually have 3g. Instead they announce vague “markets” that don’t mean squat.

        • MIke

          well take your iphone to AT&T and sign up with them since it was made for AT&T network and not T-Mobile

  • victorcao

    I think the brief analysis of maintaing value in college towns is important being that T-Mobile needs to cater to those wanting lower cost alternatives e.g. college students. They also have high demands for speed like LTE or something comparable to their hardlines.

  • Amen. I live in Alabama, between two large markets where 4G speeds have been implemented, yet in my town, the best I get is EDGE, and that’s if I have data service at all. Our coverage at home is so terrible that we aren’t even able to use T-Mobile’s service extender device. If we had faster speeds, I would’ve already trashed my home phone and DSL and relied on T-Mobile for both phone and internet service. Currently, the only use I get out of my cell at home is via WIFI. Here’s to hoping T-Mobile does what it should’ve already done this upcoming year!

  • Shane

    Good read! Hopefully T-Mobile will do some updating. Plus now with the 1900 band opening up things will start looking up.

  • blaqkmagick

    I agree 100%. I live and work in a college town (city), Syracuse, NY. I have great coverage in the city and suburbs just outside. But traveling 20 minutes in most directions I lose data coverage, without roaming support. I’m lucky if I can make phone calls in some towns. It is ridculous that while driving an hour and a half from Syracuse (SU, Le Moyne College) to Ithaca (Cornell, Ithaca College) that I lose data for the majority of the drive.

    I’m hoping that the inclusion of the iPhone in their lineup will encourage an expansion of coverage to account for potential new customers.

    • Mr. Wonderful

      Keep hoping. I know the area well. We have relatives in Verona and Canastota. We’ve been living in Natick, Mass for the past several years right by the Framingham line.
      The ugly fact is that in our area that has probably 100x the population of Upstate NY we get crap for service and nothing but 2G speeds.

      • How much, how long, and who did you pester at T-Mobile for upgrades? Did you try getting community/city involvement to push them to upgrade? There’s a multitude of options available for us customers to force T-Mobile to address it. You just need to know where to do it.

        • UMA_Fan

          Maybe that would make a good article?

        • od312

          Please ENLIGHTEN US ASAP!!

        • Jesse James

          why should the customers be the active ones to get Tmo’s service better. They should do all that on their own

        • T-Mobile prioritizes based on real and/or perceived demand. Many areas don’t have quite the network because T-Mobile feels that the communities there would not be receptive to purchasing service from T-Mobile or something like that.

          Not to mention, it takes quite a lot of work to get the authorizations to even start expanding its network. The same goes for upgrading existing towers, too. T-Mobile has to know that it is worth the investment to do so, otherwise it won’t.

  • Zevyn Prather

    A lot of the major highways going up northern California are still GPRS, and in restroom stops and small towns EDGE is available

  • Trevnerdio

    Finally! Someone has addressed this. I live in Panama City, FL and we’re HSPA+ 42 here, so we should get LTE by late next year, but my mom has a G2 and I’m thinking what will happen to her phone? Will it eventually not work since that whole band will be taken up by LTE? Her phone doesn’t support Band II.

    Further, my cousins get 3G basically our entire ride from western Louisiana to the Florida panhandle on AT&T…and while T-Mobile has gotten much better about 3G/4G along that ride, it’s only because of the major cities. Get into slightly more rural areas, and I’m on EDGE. Make it a little more rural, and I’ve got GPRS. Bars start to drop, uh oh, I don’t have signal anymore.

    • There will always be some HSPA+ on AWS to support legacy 3G devices, at least for the foreseeable future (to the end of 2015, anyway). Beyond 2015, I don’t know. I don’t find it likely that AWS HSPA will be totally removed, though.

    • Nicolas LaBarre

      Don’t even try getting signal on Highway 20 :/

      • Trevnerdio

        I bet. I think I might have tried before…probably the only highway not covered in the east lol

  • kev2684

    i never really experienced edge speeds since i live in a big city, i switched to GSM for a minute and test speeds. Oh. God. Why? and to think there were more than 1 million iPhone users in t-mo network at these speeds constantly? they must be really loyal to t-mo.

    • Trevnerdio

      Closer to 2 million! Before they switched over at all, there were about 1.5 million iPhone users. Yeah, they loved their wifi and cheap plans haha

      • Austin Allen

        To many who just text and called, and had wifi… EDGE would be fine. IMHO Tmbiles EDGE is much more reliable than AT&Ts EDGE, but ATTs EDGE is hard to find…. I see EDGE when I just barley venture outside of city limits here.

        • Trevnerdio

          Yeah that’s probably because T-Mobile still relies heavily on it lol

        • Bill Berry

          Really? It’s Wi-Fi where we live or forget it.

  • UVMMedStudent

    You forgot Vermont. They neglect the entire state, including the medical campus in Burlington.

    • Vermont is in the New England area. I didn’t forget you. :)

      • UVMMedStudent

        :)

    • Jim Mack

      Dont worry Maine is in the same boat as Vermont. I know we are small but in this day and age there is no excuse for having 2g be the primary coverage in ANY market. People dont go to Verizon for the prices, they go because Verizon keeps its entire network up to date

      • Well, it was easy for Verizon. It started out from the New England area. Bell Atlantic is from New Jersey, and Bell Atlantic’s wireless arm serviced the area. Bell Atlantic, through a series of mergers and acquisitions, became Verizon Communications. The wireless arm merged with Vodafone AirTouch to become Verizon Wireless.

        • UMA_Fan

          Question for you Kudo. What can T-Mobile do about indoor signal penetration outside of buying lower band spectrum? Their modernization will supposedly help but will their signal penetrate buildings as well as 700mhz spectrum from verizon and at&t?

        • Aside from getting low band spectrum, the only thing that will help improve in-building coverage is adding small cells inside buildings or adding more cell sites around it (making the macro cell network denser). I believe small cells are something T-Mobile will begin deploying toward the end of this next year, but we’ll see.

  • smartiefootball

    Sioux Falls, SD. Top 150 market and 2g only!

    • I think most carriers only care to crow about the top 25, 50, and 100 markets. Beyond that seems to be not worth mentioning. :(

      • Trevnerdio

        Panama City is sitting pretty with HSPA+ 42, and even Panama City Beach. Putting the POPs of Lynn Haven, PCB, and PC together, we equal roughly half of the 100th largest city.
        (Though PCB has the largest nightclub in the US and is a huge spring break destination)

    • Trevnerdio

      You have coverage in SD? Didn’t think people actually lived there ;)

      • smartiefootball

        Only coverage for tmobile is in Sioux Falls. City of 250,000. They bought out a local company. No store here even! Have to buy things online. Att has hsps+ here verizon has lte and sprint has 3g. Tmobile is 2g with no store!

        • Trevnerdio

          That sucks. We only have one store here in a metro area of about 50,000…but I just checked the population of Sioux Falls haha woww…you have over 100,000 more than us just in the city itself. You are well beyond 150! The 100th largest city at last check was Wilmington, NC at 100,000 people.

  • hello

    For any growth this must be a top priority.

  • Jim1348

    I am glad somebody is discussing this. I live in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul MN area, but I go to northern Minnesota for ATVing and other activities. I often am hoping for higher speed data in those areas and it seems way overdue!

    • Nearmsp

      I get only Edge all the way from Maple Grove to St. Cloud on my iPhone 5. Forget boundary waters, the supposedly “completed” refarming of 3G in Minneapolis is a joke.

  • anoymous0912

    I couldn’t agree more and I’ve been saying the same thing. Larger markets equal more customers yes but with so many 2g only areas all together that’s a large sum of potential customers. I myself know plenty of places t-mobiles reception blows ALL the the carriers out of the water. The problem is those places are 2g only areas and with everybody having smartphones that’s a turn off. Voice coverage matters but if say t-mobile has good coverage in somewhereville and at&t has good coverage in somewhereville but at&t has 3g and t-mobile 2g and you want the newest smartphone who you gonna pick. Unlike large cities wifi isn’t available everywhere nor is it safe so the carrier with the best data coverage wins. This isn’t the year 2000 where flip phones and feature phones were all anybody has and the difference been edge and umts was irrelevant it matters now and that’s what people want better speeds. Not to mention some cities with 2g only coverage hardly have the capacity to handle all the users during a busy day. At&t still has this issue as well but they have came a long way in the past 2 years and the amount of edge left is small especially compared to t-mobile.

    • Joseph M.

      Part of the problem is that they seem to act on the belief that the majority of city people never get in a car and drive farther than 10 miles, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The fact is that by the numbers, we’re far too mobile a culture for them to ignore the “dustbowl” areas in their upgrade plans for long and not expect to lose the game. Even for folks who only get out of town a few times per year, they still want all the features of their smartphones to work. They need to pull a Verizon and get EVERY tower upgraded before I’ll consider again them for anything more than my emergency glovebox flip phone.

      And dustbowl? Seriously, John Legere? As Clark Howard is fond of saying, someone needs to go back to charm school.

  • Omg ! Ive been ranting about this since I saw the spetrum map. A good example is Camden, SC you only get edge no 3G at all. I hate driving to Camden because the speeds are soooooo slow. T-Mobile really should use less spectrum in 2G and put majority of their spetrum in 3G which is more reliable. But who knows if this will happen.

  • Bo

    I live in Oklahoma.. NE OK. a city 20 minutes from here has 4G and I’m stuck on G sometimes E. Why am I paying a NW4G price and not getting to use it?

  • TayshaunBoba

    The large swaths of 2G have definitely been a problem for TMO, and I’m really hoping that some of the ~10.7 Billion DT has committed to the U.S. over the next three years will go to upgrading the EDGE and GPRS areas and not just LTE. That’s a huge chunk of change especially when you compare it to the-I think 4 billion- they had originality committed to over the same 3 years.

  • Jon Krugerud

    Yes! I agree! I feel like i live in the last GPRS town in Minnesota and the sad part is im only 30 minutes from Minneapolis with EDGE and 3G to every side! But for some reason tmobile hates my town!

    • Nearmsp

      Is that the west side? Just curious where there is GPRS. I did see GPRS once driving towards Marshall.

  • T-Mobile Fan

    Get REAL TMONEWS! T-Mobile has come a long way and certainly not from any help from you. They have modernized towers with speeds faster than AT&T’s LTE, They have an Unlimited 4G data plan, merging with Metro PCS, swapping spectrum, buying spectrum, LTE goes live in a few months, and finally made a deal with Apple. We may only be investing in major markets right now because these markets are what keeps this company afloat . Seems like it is never enough for you! I mean just “yesterday” you were bitchin about how T-Mobile needs the IPHONE!! But the last thing T-Mobile needs to be worried about is towers in the back woods of MISSISSIPPI. We have to get back to profit before we can invest in markets that really can not even keep a regional carrier in business!! Just sayin! If you can NOT support T-Mobile in a positive way and help this amazing carrier get back on track then by all means shut down this damn website! T-Mobile is not trying to be Number 1 the entire nation. Its goal is to be the number 1 Value leader! You want Number 1 then go pay 140.00 a month for unlimited minutes and 5GBs with Verizon and At&t and you’ll get your 3g/4g in the back woods of Mississippi!!! GET REAL!!!!

    • Mack Bolen

      Must be an employee

      • od312

        Agreed. They said “we are invesying…”

    • tmorep

      I agree with you 100% but I will also say that the article was written more for constructive criticism. I do also agree with the fact that we all need to be patient as Tmo has gone a long way in just the past few months and we’re looking at a very promising and exciting future. The coverage at key places such as major universities and their surrounding areas is very important and I’m sure it will be addressed in the near future. I do hope T-mobile upgrades the data coverage along major interstates as I hear a lot of complaints from people who drive for a living and are not capable of using their devices at their full potential.

      • T-Mobile is a joke

        Translation. If you driver from NY to Boston or NY to DC along the major interstate then you will get no T-Mobile signal for most of the trip. And in the few places where you do get reception you’ll be limited to 2g edge data rates.
        But don’t worry…. the refarm will fix everything. We just can’t tell you who is going to be refarmed, when you’ll get refarmed, if you’ll even get refarmed and we can’t show you what areas were already refarmed.
        But keep waiting patiently!!!!

        • 2g sucks

          ja ja ja ja. It hurts but its true. Main reason why I had to change companies was that looking at the coverage map on t-mobile.com, it basically showed that I should be getting good coverage where we just moved, when in fact all I could get was edge if lucky. That was on all my family’s lines, and even people who came to our new place with t-mobile service, you call customer service, and they tell you there is a problem, but we have no idea when it will be fixed, but patiently wait while your job depends on being in constant communication with the people you work with and if it gets fixed then you are all set.

    • bleeew

      Maybe if they covered them, then they would get revenue from them. They are value leader because of the limited coverage.

      • T-Mobile Fan

        Lol! Not enough people to support enough revenue to even be profitable. Nice try though ;)

        • T-Mobile can apply to get government money to support these markets, as well. There’s also network sharing with regional carriers to lower the direct costs of expanding coverage.

          Here’s the thing, though. Retaining that old equipment is going to be more expensive than upgrading to new equipment. In the case of Powertel, the company that actually made the antennas on the towers no longer makes them or supports them. Not to mention, Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent no longer provide information or support on the equipment that Omnipoint, SunCom, and VoiceStream deployed over a decade ago.

          Also, it becomes a problem when lots of people complain, because then the support costs begin to rise. At which point, it is definitely cheaper to just upgrade the market than it is to continue ignoring the complaints.

        • Birdsfan

          T-Mobile Fan you’re way off base. There are over 40,000 people in a area just north of Philadelphia in a radius of about 50 square miles that has a median household income of $100,000 and the lion share of that area is EDGE or worse. My AT&T work phone is HSPA+ or LTE and my Verizon work tablet is LTE. How is that not enough people or potential revenue for T-Mobile to upgrade their coverage? I have been with T-Mobile since 2001 and nothing much has changed in my area.

        • philyew

          Of course there are areas like that, on the fringes of the larger urban conurbations, and they should be upgraded quickly. However, the area you describe represents 0.05% of the total population that Conan’s proposal would cover…and the vast majority of that population is neither so densely and conveniently located, nor as affluent.

        • Eagles Fan 2012

          >> ” I have been with T-Mobile since 2001 and nothing much has changed in my area.”

          > “they should be upgraded quickly”

          What part of nothing has changed in the past 12 years needs explaining?

        • philyew

          Nothing needs explaining. I said it SHOULD be done quickly, not it WILL be done quickly.

          The point is that, while your situation could and should be improved urgently by TM (assuming they have the requisite AWS spectrum), the vast majority of the 85 million people who have no choice but 2G service, if they want to be a TM customer, don’t live in areas anywhere near so geographically or financially compelling.

        • Jesse James

          This isn’t totally accurate. You are talking about Montgomery/Bucks County. You do get 4g service but it isn’t reliable at all. One street you are good and the next you are totally on edge. The problem surrounding the philadelphia area is spotty coverage not no coverage

        • Birdsfan

          Try going up Rt 611 north of Doylestown or north on 202 into Buckingham. These are the places I was talking about…EDGE city or worse.

    • reedacus25

      You are so right. The back woods of Mississippi could NEVER keep a regional carrier in business!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C_Spire http://www.cspire.com/company_info/about/more_info.jsp
      Heaven forbid customers want decent competition and would like to see a decade old PowerTel network see some TLC. Why are you so against overlaying UMTS over GSM? GSM good enough for you forever? AT&T will be sunsetting their GSM network by 2017. With as far along as their UMTS deployment is, they are still 4 years out to sunset. How long will T-Mobile have to ride out an aging network? Don’t get me wrong. GSM is an amazing radio technology, one that I am sad to know will eventually fall by the wayside, but it is technology, and technology evolves. Even in the back woods of Mississippi.

      • T-Mobile Fan

        I’m not against it, I’m saying its not in the budget or is it practical at the moment to invest in smaller markets that will not allow T-Mobile to profit on a large scale. The plan in place with the investments in MAJOR markets will allow them to double their cash flow in less than a year from now, which then will give T-Mobile the cash it needs to take notice to those woods in the Mississippi and upgrade those smaller “so called” markets. As for C-spire, it barely has a million customers and only covers the state of Mississippi and a few branches of surrounding states. I do not really call that a “REGIONAL” carrier. I think Cricket or Metro PCS would be more of an example of a regional carrier. But thanks for the info anyways :)

        • GinaDee

          T-Mobile has been playing it safe for over a decade now and thus the reason for them being massively behind. When wireless became extremely popular in the late 90’s and early 00’s T-Mobile USA sat on its laurels and allowed Verizon and the companies that formed the present day AT&T come to be. T-Mobile insisted its business model of organic only growth was the way to go. Boy were they wrong! They watched from the sidelines as Verizon and AT&T gobbled up smaller companies and the most valuable low band 700 MHz spectrum.

          T-Mobile has had excess spectrum in the PCS range in may large markets for years and they never developed those areas into PCS 3G because they did not want to spend the money to build out these areas. Instead they felt 3G was just a fad and hoped customers would opt for WiFi instead. They were so cheap that instead of expanding their network they wanted users to rely on WiFi for indoor calling thus the birth of UMA. Great product in theory but the reasons behind it was not so great.

          There is no excuse for retaining a mainly 2G network when the likes of Verizon will have a larger LTE network than T-Mobile’s 2G/3G and 3G+ networks combined by the end of 2013. If they aren’t going to cover large geographic areas with higher speed wireless then an least cover all the major highways that connect the large cities and towns.

          The FCC should reclaim the spectrum that T-Mobile holds in markets they never intend to build out.

        • T-Mobile Fan

          In order to even come close to Verizon, T-Mobile would have to charge it’s customer double if not more to build out it 2G to 3G as fast as Verizon did. Like I told TmoNews, “Get Real”!

        • Please shut up. T-Mobile acquired more small companies than you know of and they also held the largest 4g footprint for a long time. As far as depending on wifi, thats NOT the case at all. If you recall, which you probabaly dont because you don’t do your research, you just run at the mouth bubbleguts style… The government wanted to deploy free nationwide wifi and T-Mobile lobbied to block that b/c that would f up the data offerings that they had planned(3g/4g).

          Also note that Tmobile was the fastest growing company up until the iphone. Not really because of the iphone but b/c the market has reached close to 96% market penetration. I would say the only real time Tmobile dropped the ball is when they decided to forgo the iphone in lieu of tmobile @home(not knowing the kind of impact the iphone would have). But in hind sight, getting the iphone back then just may have crippled the company. They wouldn’tve been able to upgrade to the 3g iphone at the time, they would still be in debt from apples high billion dollar cost, and they would be in jail after attempting to assassinate you for trying to have the government take back the spectrum they paid billions for. But what do I know, I broke a shoe lace this morning. Have an awesome Tuesday.

    • UMA_Fan

      This was actually a very constructive article there was nothing ‘negative’ about it. There’s a difference between being positive and being delusional.

      • T-Mobile Fan

        But there is something negative about calling people delusional because their opinion is different from yours. Try Boy genius report !!

    • 2g Sucks

      I really think the author is right. 2g is something that shouldn’t be used anymore. I got a temporary sony ericsson phone from tmo because I lost my phone and it connected to their 3g network, even though it was a really old phone, this should be good for people just wanting to make and receive calls. They need to hurry up with the refarm, and to deploy LTE. I was a loyal customer up until last month, when I just got fed up with their new customer service, and inconsistent data service. I do agree that in some places using my iphone 5 with a tmo sim, I would get around 7-14 mbps down and 3 up, which to me is really impressive (Houston,TX.) since the same iphone 5 with my att (Using 4g not LTE) would get my 2-4mbps down and 1-2 up. Now when activating LTE I get 15-36mbps down and 7-26 up. I can only imagine that tmo’s LTE would be around 30-40 mbps down and 20-30 up, but their refarm is happening really slow, to a point where they just probably announce that a city is done based on their initial estimate, when actually is not even halfway done. Come on T-Mo get rid of 2g and use that spectrum entirely for your refarm, and aws entirely for LTE.

      • T-Mobile Fan

        As a Value Leader, T-Mobile is right where it needs to be. You will just have to be patient if you want 3G/4G in small markets. 2G is better than nothing at all. Oh but that’s right! You live in Houston , TX and get 4G speeds up to 42 Mbps on T-Mobile phones!!!

        • 2g sucks

          Ok. Recently t-mobile’s Legere stated that their target was att, because sprint was too easy to overcome, when at least they have LTE (A sucky one here in houston 5-15mbps down and 9-15 up, but can be upgraded). Att is not a value leader is it? But if you really try to catch up with att, then you really should forget about 2g and move on to better tech. Well if they state that 80%+ of their customers are upgrading to smartphones, then just leave the regular customers out, anyway they bring nothing to the company but a couple of bucks, use all available spectrum to service only 3g and LTE, and leave your customers happy. Really because of where it is, it can’t be nothing but a value leader.

        • Value-Leader

          K-Mart is also a value leader. How’s that working out for them?

    • Kkim

      Personally, I am plagued by the slow 2G speeds in my area and when I do get “4G” in the downtown area (Full bars to be exact), my speed test shows less than positive results (I will upload speed test results upon request). I live in a suburban environment and am not fortunate enough to experience the full 4G speeds in the “major markets” (ex. in NYC: I get download speeds of 4-5Mbps).It seems as though you have never had 2G for a prolonged period of time because I don’t think you realize how agonizing it can be. I get download speeds of not 1Mbps, not .5Mbps, and not even .2Mbps, but I get .05 to .1Mbps. How can the sales of iPhones be successful if the majority of T-Mobile’s subscribers (or at least a vast quantity of subscribers) can’t even take advantage of the iPhone’s LTE radio or even it’s HSPA radio. Understand that there are unfortunate T-Mobile subscribers who are desperate for decent HSPA+ speeds as much as the fortunate T-Mobile subscribers are desperate for LTE. Please empathize and look at it from our perspective. Don’t be so naive as to say that we (yes, us 2G users) don’t matter.

      *sidenote*: IF for whatever reason you want to know, I am currently using an HTC Sensation 4G.

    • lnxarepou812

      i am a T-Mo employee and can personally atest to multiple calls in just the last two days from people with disabilities or who have loved ones with disabilities who are away from home calling in b/c their service isn’t working in or near their home/work area and it’s b/c they have 2g voice coverage but EXCELLENT 3g/4g data coverage….these were areas in the southeast and what can i as a rep tell them other than “sorry,that’s just the coverage there”….so David’s story holds alot of truth and it’s frustrating as a rep for one to have to take the brunt of the customer’s frustration by personally being called “a piece of s**t” and not being able to do anything except say “why don’t we troubleshoot” knowing it’s not gonna make a damn bit of difference

      • I didn’t think about the accessibility issues. That is a serious problem. Many of the older 2G systems don’t fully support the required accessibility features that are used by those who are disabled to use the phone system. The standards simply weren’t fully in place at the time. Or if they are implemented, they are way behind compared to T-Mobile’s competitors because the 3G/4G networks implement the latest features to assist with usage of the phone system by disabled people.

    • You just went off. While a shmiggit disrespectful, I cant even be mad.

    • T-Mobile is a farce

      Have another pitcher of that Magenta colored Kool-Aide. Talk about a delusional fan-boi.

      • You must not have read the same article I did…

    • derwahnsinnig

      All I have in my area is 2G service and there are no signs of that changing by the end of 2013. I don’t see how pointing out that they have a large mobile footprint but most of it is EDGE or roaming is a bad thing. I would love for them to update some of the “backwood” towers in my area so I could actually use more than 23mb on my 2Gb plan. My some of my calls wouldn’t get dropped either. But that is my opinion as you shared yours.

    • minioninnc

      STFU! It makes perfect sense to bring 3G/4G to other people that don’t have it instead of updating all these other places first. Update your entire network and quit leaving people out.

    • Jose Hernandez

      I don’t understand your comment. There is nothing wrong with the article. They are providing some good information on a real problem/issue that T-Mobile has. Nothing here should be taken and anyone hating on T-Mobile. This website was created to Support T-Mobile. It’s ok to express your opinion, but could you not jump to conclusions and start yelling comments that really don’t address the article at all?

    • Maxsilver

      You say “Number 1 Value Leader”, all I hear is “cheap excuses for not maintaining their network”

      No one is asking them to serve all of Rural America.

      All we’re asking is that they serve Freeways and Suburbs.

      I live in a suburb of a city with 500,000 people. It’s rediculious to me that Verizon has LTE here, AT&T has both HSPA+ and LTE deployed here — perfect signal too, but T-Mobile is GRPS only. (not even edge — a super weak GRPS only signal!). T-Mobile holds 40mhz of PCS and 30mhz of AWS here, and it’s GRPS only.

      Look at a coverage map of Michigan. MetroPCS has three times more LTE coverage than T-Mobile has of 3G. MetroPCS has entire markets of LTE that T-Mobile doesn’t cover at all (no service, no roaming, nothing.). And MetroPCS is a tiny, regional player only the fraction of the size of T-Mobile.

      It has nothing to do with being the “value leader”. T-mobile has been lazy, full stop, and someone needs to slap some since into them, or their postpaids are all going to slide out to AT&T / Verizon.

      • 2g sucks

        I actually thought they had given up even before the proposed merger with at&t. Even with the merger going on, they apparently stopped caring for their customer service. Now they are trying to get back in the game, probably to add value to the company and later sell it. I agree that nobody is asking t-mobile to serve all rural areas, nor anyone is expecting them to. It sucks that they have a lot of spectrum and just sit on it. Like you said they need to do something about it, or just like me and all my friends but one, will leave t-mo to go to att or verizon. I really hope they start deploying LTE A as soon as possible, go back to what was known as the best customer service, and I am sure I would go back. Until then I will be stuck with at&t, which costs me more, but I rather pay $100 extra a month for my family and be at least happier than I was with t-mobile.

      • akrupinski

        It’s just where you are, this doesn’t apply to the whole country. In my suburb of New York, T-Mobile has HSPA+ while Verizon only has 3G. People around here with T-Mobile are very satisfied.

        • JED

          I’d say that what you describe is just where you are, and doesn’t apply to the majority of the country.

      • Bill Berry

        What irks me is their value plan requires a contract; it doesn’t matter whether you own your phone or not…it’s stupid.

    • Rob

      This guy had a good point and wrote a very well informed article. T-mobile has been dragging their feet and that’s the bottom line. That’s the reality!

    • Veritas

      No one is saying that T-Mobile needs to have the same 3G/4G penetration as its competitors, they have lower prices, less revenue, it’s to be expected that their coverage is not going to be #1. But as you said yourself, “help this amazing carrier get back on track.” Obviously, you are acknowledging that there are problems. I live in a metropolitan area with over half a million people, and about 75% of the population lives in 2G coverage. T-Mobile has acknowledged that churn is a serious problem. I hear people every day telling me they are cancelling, not because of the iPhone or dropped calls, or billing issues, but because of poor data coverage. There are 3 retail stores here and one of them is located in 2G coverage. Every other carrier in this area has virtually 100% of the area 3G/4G. When someone is attracted by the price to T-Mobile and experiences 2G data everywhere, what do you think happens? Or customers who have been loyal to T-Mobile for years and decide to make the jump to smartphones, only to find it doesn’t work? Have you tried to use the EDGE network? It literally takes 5 minutes or more to send an MMS. This is why people that are not insulated inside a major city are jumping ship. In your own words, this article is just encouraging T-Mobile in the best way to “get back on track.” Those people in major cities already have usable internet service, the vast majority of consumers will not notice a difference if their data goes from 5 mbps to 8 mbps or whatever. But people do notice when they have absolutely no usable internet connection.

  • MWO

    How about Tampa Bay/Saint Petersburg Fl………………………….. Been on an AT&T I phone 2g
    3 years I was hoping Tmo was going to give me a Christmas present !!!!!! Im hopoing they will flipped the switch bt Jan 1

  • Christopher_McG

    There are still EDGE only cell towers in Las Vegas, and degraded HSPA+ service and coverage in South West Las Vegas at Rainbow and the 215. The same is probably true in many other markets. GSM only cell towers in major cities is a huge problem, I don’t care how suburban the area is.

    • BigMixxx

      Feel you there. I work in the Enterprise area near Bermuda. I haven’t had issues there, but when I roll out to the less populated areas, both ATT and Sprint seem to be spotty. AND out near liberty high school, non existent.

      the overall signal seems to be degraded (you are right there) in Vegas. I go GREEN when I hit other cities (Amarillo, Albequerque, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Atlanta) but LV seems odd.

      Since the refarm finished, however, my 3g/HSPA+ signal has been quite strong.

      • Christopher_McG

        The signal has gotten stronger in areas where it wasn’t that much of an issue. But areas where it was bad, it’s still bad such as Town Square, Rhodes Ranch, Rainbow and the 215, Southern Highlands, and a few other places.

  • Hyuri

    I feel fortunate to live right on the edge of an HSPA+ cell – if I orient my phone just right and set it to WCDMA-only I can sometimes get one whole bar – which seems to be the only such cell in the region. And that’s depressing, living just off a major highway just outside a major urban center in Southern California.

  • Rick

    There is a spot in Phoenix that has a 2G-ONLY tower, and it latches on to my, phone when I eat lunch there. Surrounded by 4G< this is highly annoying. After 6 years of this, no fix. Occasionally, TMO claims it is not their tower, claims there is no such tower, and claims I'm roaming. It is not changing.

  • TMoFan

    I took a trip last week and thought ahead and saved my map data offline. Most of the trip was EDGE and some areas had no service at all. Also lost my perfect 4G coverage since the spring. I thought it was related to the refarm but my GSIII also gets edge unless I switch to wcdma only and hold it landscape and even then the signal is weak and cuts out. I’m a fan of T-Mobile but they need to build out, then build up. Every quarter Vzw and att proves that people will pay for coverage.

  • Get_at_Me

    Great write up. I used to work in an area that was surrounded by 2g coverage. Business suffered at my store in part to that. Hopefully tmo will take your advice and make the entire network more smartphone friendly.

  • bleeew

    100% agreed. If this was fixed, not as much people would leave, and they probably be a bigger competitor. I think they should roll-out towers where its a “verizon only” coverage zone so that they can steal verizons customers, or Atts.

    • TBN27

      And their churn will come virtually to a halt.

  • TBN27

    This is a sad reality yet i believe that T-Mobile will get to them over time. The thing is to always deal with the larger markets first. One place i wish they would enter is Vermont. There is no T-Mobile coverage there.

    • Brandyn Duncanson

      Vermont has native T-Mobile Coverage but it’s mostly along the major highways, and in Burlington. But of course only EDGE.

      • TBN27

        Ok. I was in Rutland/killington and all i have to say is thank goodness for wi-fi calling

  • EAS

    I’m in Tallahassee for school and have been waiting all year for the upgrade. Wasn’t sure if it would come here, but service here is great overall, almost always have full bars But they have not upgraded to 3G/4G yet here…I know it’s not the biggest city in Florida by far, but it IS the capital. Pleaseeee upgrade here! So sick of Edge.

    • No 3G/4G coverage in Tallahassee? That is odd, since Pensacola has 3G/4G, but I guess you can’t consider it odd. I live in Mobile, AL, and Dothan had 3G turned on before us, even though Mobile is a MUCH larger market (still kinda iffy on the whole Eglin outdated equipment thing).

    • That is strange. I live in Valdosta which is about 1.5 hours northeast of Tallahassee and a MUCH smaller market (only about 50k) and we already have HSPA+. I am pulling about 18up/4down. Spotty coverage indeed.

  • cutienoua

    Conan,according to the banner on this site advertising tmobile coast to coast 4g ,you are very wrong !
    smile

  • lafbudda

    I live 250 miles from an large city in Washington state. We have 4G and week ago I receive my upgrade for my galaxy S3. Don’t know why, I always thought many address was last?

    • kalel33

      Probably because T-mobile’s headquarters are in Washington state.

  • jay_max

    I think this was a good editorial and said a lot of things that needed to be said. A couple of thoughts:

    1. Roaming in Montana, Wyoming, and parts of Texas as I understand it is through MTpcs, which operates under the Cellular One brand. I never have coverage issues when I’m back in Montana. TMO should just buy the company. Same thing in Nebraska/Colorado – Viaero Wireless seems to be their partner. Again, TMO should just buy the company. They’re joint venture partners in iWireless in Iowa, which is why no “native” coverage is there. I could be wrong about some of this, but the internets seem to say that this is correct. I have no idea about West Virginia.
    2. I think TMO has been improving rural coverage. If you pay attention to their coverage maps, the 2G areas are getting smaller, and not just around the big cities. TMO has upgraded a ton of rural places – just browse Indiana, southern Michigan, New York between NYC and Albany, eastern New Mexico, the Texas Panhandle, rural Illinois, northern California coverage is expanding, Eastern Washington, southern Idaho, NE Alabama, etc. etc. etc. It seems TMO is on the right path. The 64,000 question is whether their entire footprint will be off of 2G, and I agree, it should be.
    Hopefully there’s some TMO folks on here who can anonymously fill us in and answer some questions.

    • John Wentworth

      NJ’s coverage has improved quite a bit in recent years, before I would never consider t-mobile because their coverage was so bad, after a few friends switched I decided to give it a shot with the gsm nexus and I’m very happy from the NYC to Philly area and the jersey shore I have hspa+ coverage and I rarely see speeds less than 3 – 4 Mbps.
      Theirs a lot of users who rarely leave fairly populated areas, they need to upgrade 2g areas but they should probably focus on more populous areas like the east and west coast first as it will net a bigger return on their investment.

  • Dam Skippy

    Shouts out @ Conan Kudo for speaking nothing but the truth I 100% agree with you thanks for the article keep on rockin bro

  • steveb944

    I experienced this issue in Alaska when I was stuck roaming the whole time, everywhere! Also when I drove down to Florida from DC, at least when I lost signal my friend would pick it up on his AT&T iPhone and vice versa.

  • Do it T-mo

    I agree with this statement. There are some basic phones that operate on 3g. People who do not want internet at least wont be holding other people to 2g. If t-mobile wants to be known for something, and call the attention of everybody, this is the move they should be doing. To get rid of 2g entirely would beneficial for them and their customers, since they could now be able to use the PCS, and AWS entirely and give better service to their 3g and LTE customers accordingly.

  • diana245

    Tru bout Alaska not havin t-mobile coverage I was just there 2 weeks ago my tmobile galaxy s3 roamed on AT&T in anchorage and everywhere else I went I was surprised how good at&t coverage is in Alaska ..

    • AT&T bought Alascom in the late 1990s and used that as the basis for deploying a native network in Alaska. AT&T is the only national carrier with a native network in Alaska, as a result.

    • M42

      But could you see Russia from where you were at?

  • the_finz

    In my area they have 30 MHZ of AWS, and 15 MHZ of PCS to use. Also the sickening thing is my town of Newark, Oh has a population of nearly 50K, and still nothing other than the slowest EDGE i have ever seen. I have been to Wilmington, Oh, a town of only 15k in population, and they have friggin 4g.The sad thing is between the 10 cities around Newark there are 100k plus in population. In Wilmington there are farms…. Still don’t understand this TMO. This is bs. I have been a long time customer in hopes of some day my patients will pay off…. But looks like I will be waiting for a long time. Hope they some day get this fixed.

  • P_Tigras

    Great article Conan! Spotty or poor coverage is a major problem for T-Mobile, and IMHO the single biggest reason why T-Mobile has such a high churn rate. Transitioning the large swathes of 2G areas to HSPA+ would do a lot to address this issue.

  • The Architect

    A huge area west of Lawton, Ok, near Ft. Sill to Altus AFB, Ok. needs some serious 3G loving (4G & LTE optional) We’re stuck on gprs till Altus then it’s just edge there!!! Also buy out Pine Cellular, in S.E. Ok. I was stuck on roaming there a year ago on edge then upgrade to at least 3G plz!!!

  • TMOTECH

    Conan, i could not agree with you more. All I can say is that it is being worked on. The Legacy GSM equipment is 10 + years old in every market. Due to the vendors not supporting the legacy equipment anymore with spare parts and warranty services I can tell you that T-Mobile will not have a choice but to replace it with the new Flexi Tower top radios. That being said, and this is pure assumption on my part, it would make sense to upgrade the sites with 3G at the same time. But you do need to realize also that these rural areas do not always have Fiber Optic networks in the ground so 3G/4G services will have to rely on microwave networks for their Ethernet pipe and that will cost boatloads of money to do as well. Which is the big part of why it hasn’t been doe thus far.

    • Yeah, I’m aware. Here in Starkville, only one of the three upgraded cell sites has a fiber link. The other two are using older coaxial links. Fortunately, the coax links are still offering comparable speeds.

      I actually was allowed to see some of the legacy equipment being replaced at the cell site being modernized in Starkville, and I saw seriously old stuff. Some of that equipment is made by vendors who either don’t exist anymore, or no longer offer services for that equipment.

      Mississippi is fortunate, because we have several fiber link providers in the state. Telepak Networks (CLEC), AT&T (ILEC), Comcast (hybrid fiber-coax), Metrocast (hybrid fiber-coax), Cable One (coax), and others. Alabama, Alaska, Montana, and the Dakotas are not so lucky. Many of them only have an ILEC and a cable operator.

    • supermans-dad

      Do you know if this network mod will help rural areas that have been stuck on Edge/no signal deliver a step up?

    • xmiro

      Just curious, how are you guys going to upgrade tower top equipment if everything is moving up high inside the antenna? Or did I misunderstood what Neville said during the keynote the other day?

  • vrm

    I agree. Dunno about Alaska and Dakotas- I live in Raleigh, NC and even in an “urban” area like Raleigh, the HSPA coverage is spotty.

  • od312

    Thank you. I’ve been waiting for this article for a while!!

  • philyew

    I follow your comments closely, Conan, and normally appreciate all the insights, but I don’t get this one.

    You’re saying that, entering 2013 with fully 50% of the 3G/HSPA+ to PCS and 100% of the LTE modernization still to complete in the Top 100 markets, TM should instead concentrate on upgrading the 2G network covering the bottom 30% of the nation’s markets?

    TM have announced that the iPhone is coming, maybe as early as March (based on David’s guesswork yesterday), but still won’t be able to offer better than 2G coverage in a number of their Top 50 markets at that time…and they should turn their attention away from this effort?

    By the end of 2013, and certainly in 2014, the competition will be in a position to deploy “true 4G” services. What price TM still marketing HSPA+21 as 4G, when their major competitive targets are starting to offer 100 mbps downloads in the same major markets?

    I get that the coverage outside the major population centers sucks and needs to be improved, but you can’t argue with the business dynamic which says that TM’s greatest potential for growth is still to be found in the Top 100 markets.

    Their current 3G/HPSA+ capabilities reach 225 million POPs, but they have less than a 15% market share in those areas. Working on the right strategy there has to make the most sense.

    The population outside of their 3G footprint is around 85 million, which means that – concentrating on those markets – they would have to achieve far more market penetration, at a much higher deployment cost per capita, in order to improve revenue to continue funding the overall network modernization program.

    If anything, we’ve learned that DT don’t want to throw any more of their global resources into keeping TM USA competitive. All of the current program is being funded by the payout from AT&T and the recent towers deal with Crown Castle. With that constraint ever in mind, the only place to concentrate in the short term (6-12 months) is on getting it right in the top markets.

    Your initial instincts weren’t wrong and you shouldn’t start to second guess them now.

    • I’m not saying to turn away attention from the current work. I’m saying that they should start working on upgrading the 2G only markets as well. The number of people covered by 2G-only markets is actually closer to 90 million, but the problem is that the gaps are in inconvenient places. Major highways and other high-trafficked areas are lacking. Not to mention, it is much cheaper to upgrade than it is to maintain at this point. As @TMOTECH:disqus pointed out, the 2G equipment is over a decade old. There’s no warranty or support services available for the equipment anymore. It has to be dealt with ASAP.

      Also, upgrading these markets leads to a better perception of the quality attributes of T-Mobile. Better perception often equals more subscribers. More subscribers definitely means more money. More money means more investment. More investment means expanding footprint. Expanding footprint means that T-Mobile won’t have wasted the money to buy and maintain the spectrum licenses it purchased back in the early 2000s that are set to expire at the end of this decade.

      With the MetroPCS deal, T-Mobile will be publicly traded. At that point, we’ll be at the investors’ mercy when it comes to expansion of the network. Unless everyone who visits TmoNews somehow owns the remaining 26% being free-floated on the market, it’s going to get harder to push through upgrade plans. Or, maybe it’ll get easier, given that more coverage means more subscribers and money. Who knows?

      • philyew

        I was keying off the following comments in your piece: “T-Mobile’s most important task should not be deploying LTE, though that is something that needs to happen”, “T-Mobile’s biggest (and most important task) for 2013 should be the elimination of 2G-only markets”, and “In any case, T-Mobile’s primary focus next year should be on upgrading its entire 2G-only footprint to 3G/4G service.”

        I just don’t see where the resources, both financial and physical, will come from in order to be able to maintain focus on their current modernization strategy and add in what would be an equally taxing project, albeit for a much smaller customer population.

        There are so many challenges bringing a network upgrade to the smaller markets, such as huge geographical distribution, logistical issues with backhaul, and minuscule potential customer populations in many cell areas failing to justify the hugely disproportionate cost of deployment.

        I can certainly understand the need to fill in the gaps in and around the fringes of the top market areas. In that respect, I am with you 100%, but once you start getting into the areas that have no potential to sustain the investment, then I think you have to shift that work onto a different timeline, with or without government funding.

        • The modernization project is intended to replace every single cell site T-Mobile uses. It complements that. Many people forget that the modernization initiative isn’t just about getting UMTS 1900 online in as many markets as possible. It’s also about bringing up UMTS service in all of T-Mobile’s native service areas. To that end, it is complementary. If T-Mobile can’t do it alone, then partnerships (like VZW’s 4G LTE in Rural America and T-Mobile’s i-wireless in Iowa) can help it along, as well as government funding.

        • philyew

          However, all the way through, TM has been talking about its modernization program covering 37,000 towers…but they use 52,000 across their whole footprint.

          I’ve expected that the balance of their $4 billion investment will address the missing 15,000 towers in some way, but won’t start until 2014.

        • The 37,000 towers are the ones that T-Mobile directly maintains as part of its native footprint. The remaining 15,000 are either owned by another company (Iowa’s by i-wireless, Ohio’s by Cincinnati Bell, etc.) or roaming towers (in which they have no control).

        • philyew

          If that is the case, then I have seriously misunderstood the whole program. Are you sure about that?

          I’ve been working from the original Challenger Strategy statement: “T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray detailed the company’s network strategy, which includes installing new equipment at 37,000 cell sites and refarming spectrum to launch LTE in 2013.” That seems to tie the 37,000 sites to those which currently deliver 3G/HSPA+ service on AWS, since – without it – there is no potential to refarm AWS spectrum to enable LTE.

          The corollary is that the remaining 15,000 represent 2G-only towers which have no AWS service to refarm.

        • Hmm. I’ll look into it again. The thing about 2G-only areas is that nearly all of them have a huge surplus of AWS spectrum. The merger with MetroPCS adds at least 10MHz of unused AWS to the Dakotas and Montana. There’s also 20MHz or so being added in most markets along the east coast and metropolitan areas on the west coast (particularly Bay Area). Though this spectrum is largely in use, offering CDMA2000 1X and LTE service.

          Even without all that, most of these markets have 10-30MHz of AWS spectrum. Even if T-Mobile didn’t want to deploy LTE there, it could still deploy UMTS HSPA+ service, at the very least.

          Refarming is a secondary goal, not the primary one for these markets.

        • philyew

          Just to add a little more weight to my point, Neville Ray has made the following declaration to the FCC: “In my current capacity, I am responsible, among other things, for overseeing the management of the company’s wireless network, which includes approximately 52,000 cell sites…”

          I honestly don’t think he would be making such a claim about sites operated by other companies.

          I agree with your underlying point. I just struggle with the timetable you propose.

        • Well, here’s something to chew on. Given that the O&M costs of the old 2G equipment is higher than the upgrade+maintain costs for the year that the 3G/4G equipment is installed and activated, should T-Mobile not opportunistically replace it as it goes along modernizing the major markets near these 2G-only zones?

          Hell, T-Mobile can choose to reuse the equipment being replaced in modernized markets for these smaller markets so that they don’t have to procure more equipment.

        • philyew

          The question is, do they have sufficient field engineering resources to do this on anything more than an opportunistic basis? They are already augmenting their capabilities with teams from Ericsson and Nokia Siemens to do the 3G/HSPA+/LTE deployment, so where are the bodies to do anything more aggressive on 2G upgrade?

          If they can do it without disruption to the current program, have at it. If it means downgrading activity on the HSPA to PCS and LTE work, I think it needs to wait.

        • I think they’ve already started doing it rather opportunistically, hence the large number of silently activated WCDMA coverage zones in seemingly random markets this year.

          As for more than on an opportunistic basis, I don’t know. It truly depends on how the engineering teams are assigned. I know that my market is clumped in with Alabama and Tennessee, so I got lucky in that respect.

        • philyew

          Do you have any reason to thing they are actually recycling equipment other than the evidence of these random activations? I would have thought that much of the older equipment will have gone in during 2007 when they were doing the original UMTS build-out. That makes it already 5+ years old and pretty long in the tooth.

          Whether you are right that the 2G towers are included in the 37,000, or they are the additional 15,000 that I was talking about earlier, either way I think that their upgrade has to be covered somewhere in the $4 billion network budget. That said, does it make sense to deploy recycled equipment now, knowing that the cell site will likely be built-out again some time in the next 12-18 months?

          Wouldn’t it make sense now to go straight to the new equipment, particularly if it is done on an ad hoc basis which wouldn’t require an implementation program? I guess the question is whether the new equipment can be installed by TM field engineers, or whether it requires a team from Ericsson or Nokia Siemens to do it?

          Thinking about this whole question of the program schedule a bit more, it’s just occurred to me that in their deployment targets from now through the end of next year, TM have a constant total stipulated for HSPA+ on AWS – 225 million POPs. It seems to me that, if they were planning to do any 2G site upgrades as part of the 37,000 in 2013, the HSPA on AWS target would naturally increase. Don’t you agree?

        • I don’t know about recycling, but I do know they are opportunistically upgrading. If they are recycling old equipment, it would only be equipment from 2010 or 2011, since the equipment that was installed then is also being replaced (because they aren’t Release 10 capable).

          Of course the HSPA on AWS target would naturally increase. But opportunistic upgrading means it isn’t planned. The upgrading could be done for a number of reasons. For one, if a cell site breaks down, they have to upgrade it because there’s no way to repair the old equipment currently serving 2G markets. Perhaps spikes in demand for T-Mobile service have caused them to decide to upgrade the market. There are a number of potential causes, but the publicly released AWS HSPA coverage number will not be increased, even though the actual coverage may be larger, simply because it isn’t factored in. At the end of 2013, we may see a new number, though.

          From what I’m seeing here in my market, it doesn’t really matter one way or another. The steps to upgrade are: remove old antennas and TMAs, replace cabling if needed, install new antennas and TMAs, then finally replace the cabinet and switch it on. There’s at least one guy who knows how to manipulate the hardware in the cabinet, but other than that, most of the people don’t need to know too much of how it works. They just need to know how to plug in everything and physically mount things.

          More skilled teams would be required for constructing a new cell site on a new tower. Collocating on an existing tower wouldn’t require much more than what is required to upgrade.

        • M42

          You are correct and as we are discussing this topic T-Mobile is in the process of selling even more towers off and leasing them back in order to raise cash for their iPhone project.

        • philyew

          Perhaps you can help Conan and I to determine a definitive answer then, as you are sure he is correct? What facts can you bring to bear to help us out?

          It seems strange that the CTO, Neville Ray, should tell the FCC that he is responsible “for overseeing the management of the company’s wireless network, which includes approximately 52,000 cell sites”, if 15,000 of those sites are actually managed by someone else.

          Don’t confuse operating cell sites with operating their own towers. We know that TM own only 7,200 towers supporting the 52,000 sites that make up their network. The cell sites on the rest are leased/co-located.

        • M42

          By 2014 most everybody will be gone to LTE pastures elsewhere. T-Mobile just doesn’t get it.

        • philyew

          I’m afraid you will need to explain your reasoning here a little more. Since TM plan to have the most advanced form of LTE (release 10) deployed to 100 million POPs by mid 2013, and 200 million POPs by the end of 2013, why would “everybody” go to LTE pastures elsewhere?

        • It’s the coverage

          Let me butt in with my 2-cents. It’s not about LTE, LTE rel-10 or whatever other flavor of needlessly fast LTE you want to talk about. To 99% of users whether the download is 6mbps, 20 mbps, 60 mbps or 100 mbps they aren’t going to notice or care. These are all more than fast enough for what 99% of people do with their phone 99% of the time.

          IT’S THE COVERAGE. People travel, they go places, visit people and do stuff. When someone goes 15 minutes outside of the city and the absolute best they can get is some 2G signal with acoustic modem data rates then they’re going to notice. And that’s on a good day because in many cases they’ll be lucky to have any coverage at all.

          Look at the Verizon “Can you hear me now” ad campaign. It focused on coverage and that’s what people want. If my wife or daughter is driving home at night and gets a flat tire I know that there’s going to be Verizon and ATT coverage on whatever road she happens to be on. With T-Mobile chances are that they’ll be waiting for some stranger to drive by and stop with a cell-phone carrier that actually has coverage outside of big cities.

          ITS ALL ABOUT THE COVERAGE!!!!

        • philyew

          It’s ultimately about marketing and market position. When everyone else is deploying “true 4G” at 100 mbps, TM will be dying on their “used to be 4G” network without their own LTE deployment.

          If you think the competition will allow TM to continue calling HSPA+ “4G”, I’m afraid you are mistaken.

          Once TM USA is publicly traded next year, they would be slaughtered in the market, if they didn’t have an aggressive LTE strategy in advanced execution.

        • It’s the coverage

          They’re going to get slaughtered if their “4G” only works within city limits of certain special cities. When a T-Mobile customer goes to the beach, goes skiing, hiking, fishing, boating, golfing, on vacation or where-ever, they are going to be ticked off when they have either no coverage or barely 2G on a good day.

          You seem to be forgetting about the *mobile* part of mobile-phone. If the best that T-Mobile can do is give people adequate coverage when they’re in midtown Manhatten (still lacking refarm BTW) then they will fail. People don’t give a crap if their theoretical download is 60mps or 200mbps. But what they do care is about is having decent service when they’re *mobile* and travel more than 20 minutes outside of a city.

        • philyew

          If TM are providing competitive 4G service where 225 million people work and live, they will do far better with their investors and the majority of their customers who can be found in those areas than if they were providing better service where 85 million people work and live and where an indeterminate number of people take their recreation – particularly if the latter is at the expense of competitive service in the top markets.

          I’m not arguing that they shouldn’t improve the network across the board, just that they have to prioritize the work that they are currently pursuing.

          Look, if DT could get away with it, they wouldn’t spend another nickel on TM USA, but all the market imperatives dictate that they need to get with the program on fast broadband, or their $55+ billion investment will be worthless and unsaleable.

          It doesn’t help those people who aren’t within the current 3G/HSPA+ footprint, and TM MAY fail as a result of the neglect, but what is certain is that they WILL fail if they end 2013 without a credible broadband presence in the major markets.

          TM USA are where they are, not because of what they have been doing for the last year, but what they didn’t do in the 2-3 years prior when DT were laying out the ground for disposing of this asset, and then waiting while the disposal struggled and failed.

          We can say what we like about what needs to be done from a customer perspective, but from a market perspective, TM have the strategy right.

        • Sanjeev

          “It’s ultimately about marketing and market position.” – – – Ultimately all the marketing, positioning and posturing in the world isn’t going to help them when somebody buys a phone, brings it home and has 1 bar of 2g coverage.

        • philyew

          Of course, but this article is about TM’s strategy: the why, how and where of them spending $ billions to create their best possible market position to turn around the company’s fortunes.

          I don’t disagree that the company needs to provide effective service across the board…but in terms of where they need to focus in order to survive as a major force, the priority has to be remaining competitive in the major markets and to do that they need to get and stay on track with LTE deployment.

          If they lose their already small foothold in the major markets, then there won’t be a TM to offer service in any of the smaller markets.

        • 2g sucks

          I just read on WSJ that at&t will be deploying LTE A as well next year, and they will be putting more than 4 billion dollars into it, unfortunately I cannot put a link here. Google it. I do agree that tmo should be pressuring themselves to start deploying it, although it seems like they are way behind their schedule. I know as well that they are only planning to refarm 37000 sites, which make it unfortunate for the other ones. I am with you on the question as to where are they going to get the extra resources besides their deal with crown castle and at&t failed merger. DT just seems to be eyeing an exit strategy by combining with metroPCS and forming a newly publicly traded company. I really wish tmo the best of luck because they seem to need it. You are right they wont be able to keep up with their “4g hspa+”strategy, and that is why they need to hurry and finish the top 50 markets, which hopefully they will soon.

    • Still a TMO Fan

      The takeaway here is TMO needs to spend a lot more than 4 billion upgrading their net.

  • Still a TMO Fan

    This article is spot on. Small high speed data footprint and spotty coverage are the key reasons Tmo continues to lose customers. I can appreciate T-Mobile Fan’s enthusiasm but a lot of Tmo customers disagree and are voting by awarding their business to someone else at am alarming rate. While I believe they probably can’t position themselves as a value player and provide the depth and breadth of coverage ATT and VZ offer, Tmo would benefit greatly by expanding high speed data coverage along highways and around major markets. People want to use their phones/tablets to stream music, surf the web, watch video, etc while traveling. TMO clearly still has a lot of folks who see value in their offerings but with smartphone adoption in full swing they have precious little time to get this right.

    PS: In my experience, TMo’s data throughput rates are comparable to VZ’s LTE but not ATT’s. Also, TMo’s latency & jitter are far higher than either VZ’s or ATT’s LTE nets. This matters if you want to Skype, game or do anything interactive while not on wifi.

  • I agree that they need to improve their native 3G footprint. I don’t expect them to cover small farm towns with HSPA+ but when I was with AT&T one thing I remember is that I at least had 3G along every major interstate highway while I was traveling. T-Mobile does drop to 2G between most major cities. I believe this should be addressed first rather than providing actual HSPA+ to small towns. Over the past few years I will give them credit that it is improving, slowly, but I have noticed some improvement. Right now when driving from Charlotte to Raleigh you still get some 2G areas between here and Greensboro and again just before reaching Durham.

    However, I understand the strategy of making the top markets priority. After they get their 200 million POPs refarmed for 1900mhz 3G, bringing HSPA+ to the major interstate highways should be the very next move simultaneously with LTE. This will help to eliminate the impression that T-Mobile is not a good network for those who travel a lot.

  • Jarrod

    They need to recycle their 3G only equipment to areas that don’t have 3G and they can drastically increase their 3G reach. Then later they can go back and update it.

  • Prox

    Google with Dish Network needs to buy T-Mobile.

  • M42

    Thank you for saying this. It makes no sense to ignore these so called smaller areas. Many of these areas have major interstates running through them, yet offer only 2G coverage. I encounter them constantly. So it indeed makes sense to upgrade these smaller/rural markets because it is affecting interstate and business commerce. Also, the excuse that T-Mobile customers can rely on AT&T doesn’t wash either. T-Mobile has put a cap on data roaming. The cap is very small and you hit it pretty quickly.

    T-Mobile is obsessed with the iPhone and attracting users with old iPhones, but they’ve been ignoring the business market. Unless they upgrade these 2G areas into 3G/4G getting the iPhone is not going to stop the bleeding. Every other carrier, including regional carrier US Cellular, has rural areas along the interstate covered with 3G or 4G. Only T-Mobile has saddled its customers with slow outdated 2G coverage.

  • 0neTw0

    Living in Houston Only Verizon is better. T-mobile works well here. However, If I go to the burb’s and inside a building or house the signal is horrible. Thank god for wifi.

  • MinionInNC

    Lexington, NC is without 3G/4G coverage and its 10 miles to the east, 10 miles to the west and about 20 miles to the north. Bring it here!

  • Chris

    This is what I was trying to say when I commented on that article about how the CEO thinks the iPhone will save the company. This is super important.

  • RPG

    I’ve had t-mobile for years. Actually when they were voicestream. I have the SIII and I live in Dallas,Texas. Its a 4G market, but its by far the worst service I’ve ever had to date. I think they were so focused on trying to compete, and getting the 4G lit up in larger markets that they actually dropped the ball.

  • Deadeye37

    Here in Utah, we get great coverage along the Wasatch Front. But, if I head 20 minutes south of Provo (IE Nephi), there is virtually no data (GPRS and edge pop up for about 2 minutes in every 30 minutes of driving) to be had along I15 for about 3 hours until you hit Cedar City and the 2G there, you get 2G again when you hit St. George. You won’t get 4G until you hit Las Vegas.

    So basically, heading south on I15, you will travel 6 hours between Provo and Las Vegas and only 4G data at the beginning and ending of the trip. You will get EDGE data for about 15 minutes, and the rest of the time, you’re SOL. Ya, they need to fix that!

    And then there’s Roosevelt&Vernal in eastern Utah that is covered by a roaming agreement with Union wireless. You only get voice service. No data. BOO!

    I would love to see T-mobile upgrade all their towers to at least 3G/HSPA+ data. It would be even better if they just rolled out LTE to all the towers to better future proof the network! It would be completely awesome if they actually built out their network into more rural areas!

  • 21stNow

    There were many comparisons made to what Verizon Wireless does, but I don’t know if those comparisons are fair. Verizon Wireless charges more per month to their customers, they have three times as many customers as T-Mobile. I also think (but don’t know) that the financial support from the parent companies of Vodafone and Verizon would be greater than the financial support that T-Mobile receives from Deutsche Telekom.

    While I would like to see T-Mobile’s 4G coverage expand, I think that an expansion at the same or similar rate to Verizon Wireless won’t happen unless monthly revenue and owner support increased substantially.

    • M42

      I think T-Mobile customers would be willing to pay a little more for better coverage, I know I would as coverage is the key. As for Verizon having more customers, T-Mobile could grow their customer base if they would upgrade their coverage. They’re bleeding badly and don’t get the reason people are leaving them. They think it’s all about the iPhone when its about poor coverage and shitty customer service.

      • The iPhone was probably the top reason make no mistake. Coverage is the 2nd most important reason for the losses and then customer service/billing issues. Remember that most people who have coverage issues either will never sign up for T-Mobile at all or cancel within the first 14 days of their contract. Coverage keeps them from gaining new customers. The iPhone was keeping them from keeping existing customers.

  • bydavidrosen

    EDGE is worse than death.

    • GPRS is even worse, and that’s what’s in my town

    • GPRS is even worse, and that’s what’s in my town

  • RF Guy

    It appears that your voice trumps all. So speak brother. Continue to highlight T-Mobile’s weakness and where they should focus future investments. This topic has been valid for several years and a blog with your influence should have detailed this conversation a long time ago.

  • Christopher Woodruff

    I don’t think it’s just T-Mobile. All of the providers need to focus on getting rid of 2G whether it be EDGE or CDMA. It’s time for this stuff to move on. I feel bad for rural areas that have been neglected for years now.

    • M42

      In the wide area I travel in AT&T has no Edge, a little 3G and mostly 4G. Verizon is the same. I only find Edge on T-Mobile. I think most other carriers by and large have upgraded their 2G areas.

  • TMOEngineer

    There are lots of smart people at T-Mobile, David. If business analysis had shown higher profitability by expanding the UMTS footprint, we would’ve done that. You’d be surprised how fast four billion dollars in funding for network modernization gets burned up, and the work done to bring U1900 and LTE online has to be priority for parity with competitors, in terms of both marketing and service.

    • supermans-dad

      What are the chances of these rural areas finally getting better signal and jumping from edge on up??? It sucks to know that only 1 company can provide that service and people are forced into it without a choice..

    • The money is already gone? How? And what about recycling older WCDMA/HSPA+ equipment taken down from major markets and using them to replace older equipment in 2G markets? Is that not a valid cost-saving measure to conserve cash and still be able to upgrade non-major markets?

      • philyew

        The $4 billion hasn’t gone on the modernization program, though it may have gone in the short term. Remember that DT sucked out a substantial chunk from the AT&T pay off to adjust their European debt position.

        The two-year program from Feb 2012 through Feb 2014 was due to cost around $1.4 billion, according to the Challenger announcement, the rest is presumably due to be spent in 2014 and later.

        Re-cycling isn’t a terrible idea, but it will have to be redone in a few years because the recycled equipment will itself become superannuated and the balance of the $4 billion is presumably earmarked in part to fund fully modern equipment in the 2G sites.

        The hardware is only a part of the cost though, as you know. A lot of the challenge will be carving out decent backhaul in remote locations and, as I’ve said before, finding the bodies to carry out the work while maintain momentum on the LTE-driven program.

  • Steve

    Welcome to my world. I live in the next county over from Tampa, Florida is. I’m about am 40 miles away from downtown Tampa, and stuck in EDGE. The reps never understood why I was so upset and having the 5GB data plans forced on us, couldn’t use it all if I tried. West Pasco County is pretty good, but East Pasco, specifically Dade City and parts of Zephyrhills are still in the EDGE era. I’ve got no service at all between US-41 and US-301 north of SR-52.

    • Not worth the money

      Me and 98% of the country are also living in your world. Seems that unless you live in downtown New York, LA, Houston, Chicago or T-mumble doesn’t give a crap about you. Hey, you don’t live in a “major city” so we’ll just ignore you and supply you with some weak 2g signal.
      Just look at the refarm as an example of this. The *ONLY* people who are getting anything from the refarm are those living in major cities. Everybody else gets either nothing or maybe if they wait until 2015 they might get some benefit from the refarm if T-mumble feels like getting around to the suburbs some day.

      • philyew

        The problem is that the population isn’t distributed evenly. Almost 75% of the population live in those narrow geographic areas to which TM has already deployed 3G/HSPA+ on the AWS band. That’s the same population and areas that are now making way for LTE.

        If TM charged those customers $30-50/month more, as the big carriers do, then maybe they could afford to subsidize delivering a better service to the remaining 25% of the population spread across the other 80% of the nation’s territory….but would anyone stick around to enjoy the fruits, if their bills went up so massively?

        • Tired of the excuses

          The problem is that T-mumble told it’s customers that most of the country would have 3g service on their iphone by the end of 2012. And they failed miserably in meeting their date. So now it’s 2013 and then it’ll be 2014 and eventually the finish date will be 2015 and so on.

        • philyew

          They used some double speak to create a marketing feel-good factor back in February when they emerged from the AT&T takeover disaster to announce their “Reinvigorated Challenger Strategy.” I can understand why they did it, but I equally understand customer resentment at their failure to match the expectations they consequently set.

          Many people, including me, ran with their statement that the “re-farm” would be finished by the end of the year, assuming they meant the whole exercise of enabling 3G/HSPA+ on PCS. It’s now clear they never intended that to be the case. The “re-farm” is indeed now 100% complete, but their real definition of “re-farm” means only that the PCS spectrum has been cleared of GSM traffic in preparation for the deployment of 3G/HSPA+ services.

          According to FierceWireless, at the same time they were telling the FCC, in what is now a heavily redacted submission, that their plan was to complete this phase of the network modernization project by mid-2013 when the LTE roll-out was due to commence.

          Last week, in their Capital Markets Day presentation, they said their target for mid 2013 was to have 170 million POPs with 3G/HSPA+ on PCS, and 200 million POPs by the end of the year, so you are right that the current exercise won’t be finished until 2014 (or later), since there are currently 225 million POPs served by 3G/HSPA+ on the AWS band. It’s not a case of the program slipping, just that finally a more honest picture is now emerging.

          The new CEO said more than once last week that they were in a good position to meet this newly-elaborated schedule. Should we believe him? Well, I may live to regret it, but when he stands in front of that kind of audience and says they won’t be getting the job done for another year or more it’s not the kind of statement that sounds like blowing smoke, so I don’t see any reason to disbelieve.

          All that said, it was always clear that the project they were describing had no timeline for bringing 3G/HSPA+/LTE to those areas that were currently served with 2G-only. The project was to be carried out on the 37,000 towers that currently support 3G/HSPA+ on the AWS band, leaving another 15,000 2-G only towers to an unpublished fate.

    • Bob

      Hi Steve. I’m over in Polk county in Bartow. We’ve had 4g here for about a year. Are you in Hillsborough County? We were on 2g up until December of 2011. I thought all of Florida had 2g eliminated.

  • supermans_dad

    I have a friend that lives right on the out skirts of El Paso Tx in Chaparral New Mexico and he has wanted to go to T-Mobile but unfortunately can’t due to an Edge only situation so he is forced to use the only company that works well our there which is Verizon.. He’s told me he would love to go to T-Mobile because Verizon bleeds him dry and even more upsetting now he has 5 lines which 2 of those lines are android phones and he is up for upgrades but chooses not to use his upgrade because he will lose his truly unlimited data..

  • Getting 3G along interstates is going to be important if T-Mobile hopes to compete with AT&T. Having 2G everywhere is fine if they’re only trying to compete with Sprint but T-Mo will need to expand the 3G footprint for those who travel if they hope to compete with the big boys Verizon/AT&T like the CEO hopes.

    • hogasswild

      I travel a lot from one metro to another. Coverage seems to be great in town, but I can’t even use google maps on the interstate. Pre-loading map tiles has helped some, but if I need to pull over and get information or look something up on the web, I’m toast.

  • xmiro

    West Virginia is one of the poorest states, if not the poorest, in the nation. Why would T-Mobile spend money on something that may take forever to see a return on the investment. Same goes for the other areas, some are sparsely populated others aren’t economically viable

  • CPPCrispy

    I agree. The only reason I am not using T-Mobile is because they only have 2G service where I live in Ohio.

  • scurvy

    Reading the comments on a good piece of constructive criticism.
    There certainly are a lot of trolls on a site for a company they seem to hate.

    Guess things are boring with no life/job

  • caliluv78

    i agree with someone else who wrote t-mobile on here coverage is spoty in major highways in california. I just took a 3 hour trip from los angeles to tijuana mexico and on the way there many places were edge only for tmobile and on many restroom stops in the middle of nowhere it got so bad i was on “G” on my galaxy s3 i dnt even know if it was gsm or gprs ? while my boyfriend had 3G all the way on at&t he rarely had edge or Gsm/gprs . When my phone was displaying G call quality was really bad i had to borrow my boyfriends at&t s3 to call cuz it sounded much better while he had 3 bars of 3G. Its funny once i was walking into TJ as i was walking in the bridge i was checking my s3 it said t-mobile halfway across the bridge as i walked in deeper it switched to TELCEL and i had full bars everywere i went in TJ all the way to ensenada i had better service while roaming on my s3 than what i have in los angeles using t-mobile LOL

  • schippma

    I live in Cedar Springs, MI and get GPRS on my fancy GNex. My dad has Verizon and he gets LTE while my brother has Sprint with sloooooow 3G speed. I get perfect signal at home with no dropped calls but I have to rely on my home internet to get anything accomplished on my phone. I work in Grand Rapids, MI which thankfully gets HSPA but I wish T-Mobile would expand in the northern parts of Michigan, even the central part of Michigan. Only time will tell what happens here but I hope my speeds will improve shortly.

  • Irfan

    Tmobile 2g coverage is way better then last year in va md pen state nw and almost cover those places on 2g as Verizon s CDMA but I want to add here the places where we get 3G or 4g the signal strength is poor t mobile need to improve this issue it is not consistence …

  • Mirad77

    Good read as always and on a very important topic. Conan you should write more often even though matters that interest you are less.
    This is the biggest issue to Tmo more so than any particular phone would do. They need better coverage and network for the ad on to be beneficial.

  • justjoe

    I am so glad to see this article @ David. I live in Michigan and travel constantly between metro Detroit and 3 hours west of the city and I am either in edge or gprs as soon as I am 20-30 minutes outside of Detroit. I have always had a soft spot for T-Mobile and just recently came from Verizon to see if the network has gotten any better (used a blackberry bold 9900) and to no ones surprise it was not any better.

    I just dont understand why pretty much everywhere I go in the state with my Verizon phone I stay on 3G at the lowest but with T-Mobile that just isn’t the case…..I still hope T-Mobile gets better….I love the customer retention department. They have always been good to deal with my wife.

    • thepanttherlady

      Maybe more marriages need a retention department to deal with their significant others. =P

      Sorry, I know what you’re saying but this just made me giggle. Thank you. =)

  • ncmacasl

    AMEN!!!!!!!!! tired of being in 2.5 EDGE-land when promised 4G 2 years ago!!

  • Paul

    I completely agree with that strategy. I know when I drive down a major interstate highway, there are 2 I’m thinking of, I hit a LOT of edge networks. These are HEAVILY traveled and I can’t believe I will even lose service on certain parts.
    If Magenta was to eliminate all the 2G only markets, or a large percentage, they could show up Spint and AT&T in these markets. Then again, it requires money to do the upgrades.

    • kk888

      Agreed! They should have HSPA+ or better on all parts of interstate highway!

  • fryrice

    i can say when i go snowboarding up in VT my buddy has vzn with 3G while im on tmo with gprs not even edge…

  • AndTheWorldMayNeverKnow

    I went to Texas last year and had to deal with this in College Station, couldn’t even check my twitter or anything at the time because it was so slow. I spent time in Austin and had 4G signal and when I was close to Texas A&M they had a tower near the university but during the drive in between forget about it. I’m sure there are many spots like this in the US especially with Tmo.

    When I went to northern California earlier this year (where US Cellular and Verizon rule) it was the same thing. When I was close to Eureka and other main cities I would have 3G/4G but on the 101 and in the outskirts forget about it. They actually have towers that look like trees and you can spot them easy once you know what they look like but in certain spots no GPS signal either.

    I get good service where I normally move around and live my life and that’s what matters for most people right? Different plans, services and phones for everybody. Tmo has been good in Cali where I live ever since they launched their own 3G and stopped fully piggy backing off AT&T 3G. I pull constant minimum 15 megs on 4G where I live and I’m near a big market but not in it directly so that’s pretty good imo.

    I switched after I tried the original iPhone on AT&T and I started with the Dash then had the G1, mytouch 3g slide, mytouch 4g (when I finally gave up physical keyboards on a phone for good) up to the GS3 now and I’ve rarely had problems. Certain stores and indoors I used to get bad reception but not anymore

  • QuadCorePro343

    I could not agree with this editorial more. I live in a town of 6k people (county is 30k+) and AT&T has pushed HSPA+ within the last year and now verizon has blanketed my area with 4G LTE. If Tmobile wants to compete in this day and age it can not forget about these types of markets. If Tmobile only cares about coverage in populous metro areas they should call themselves MetroPC and sell their bandwidth to Verizon, AT&T, or some other company that wants to make money by being a nation wide carrier.

  • DeLonta Ransom

    I always said this about my college SFASU in Nacogdoches ,Texas. My phone stayed on Edge when I came to school but when I went home to Terrell, Texas (Dallas Area) it was always 3G. The worst part for T-Mobile is people from Houston and Dallas make up the majority of my college, so guess what happens a month after dealing with Edge while trying to download , tweet, instagram, etc …? Kids call home to Mom and Dad and switch carriers. There are around 20,000 students you are potentially missing out on and current customers you are losing from switching. Thats a problem and this article hit that nail on the head when it talked about the markets and old equipment in smaller markets. Great Job

  • Rob

    I’ve been waiting for an article that addresses this issue for a long time now. This is a huge problem for t-mobile. I hope people who are in these 2g only areas can take a few minutes to call or write t-mobile and urge them to focus some of their resources on upgrading 2g markets to at least 3g.

    • Rob

      One more thing. I read that t-mobile covers 220 million Americans with 4g. Should anyone really be impressed. The US population now stands at 311 million. That’s almost 100 million who do not have access. I also assume that these 100 million people do not have access to 3g as well seeing that with t-mobile they are one in the same now? I could be wrong about this but I bet i’m pretty close. So that’s somewhere around 100 million still stuck in edge only locations.

  • Sebastiaan vd Berg

    Awesome article, I deal with that kind of service (EDGE) while the other major carriers actually have 3G/4G & Verizon even have LTE Service… And this town is 2700 people small. Nowadays everyone has at least a 3G phone so I would like the service I pay for (Dataplan which obviously includes 4G data) plus my Galaxy S 3 feels so empty without 4G service. that annoying E is just laughing me in the face while my friends iPhone 5 (G-Dammit) has LTE…

  • A Griffith

    This is one of the main reasons after 10 years of being a T-Mo customer that I finally switched over to an AT&T MVNO.

    They really got away with it for years when the best “smartphones” you could get on their network were Win Mobile 5 and Blackberry phones. They were one of the last carriers to get a 3G Blackberry, and I thought I had hit the jackpot when that happened 5 years ago. Now T-Mo offers phones that are for the most part exceptional but they work on their specific frequencies (no unbranded GSM phones unless they’re penta-band!) and they’re subject to the high frequency bands they have that have horrible signal penetration. Nothing beats T-Mo signal standing in a parking lot, but you go into your average multi floor steel and concrete office building and you’re SOL.

    Also as this article said, the area of the Mountain West is spotty at best. Salt Lake works well and you can get 10+ down in most of Salt Lake County (maybe less so on the west side). But as I found out after relocating here a few years ago, you travel much outside of Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties you’re in 2G and maybe even GPRS roaming. Montana and Wyoming is a crap shoot on data access. Most of Wyoming that I’ve been to roams on either Union Wireless in southern Wyoming or AT&T in northern Wyoming and Montana’s major cities (Great Falls, Billings, Missoula).

    This was a great opinion piece. The points it makes are very true. Now that T-Mo has the iPhone coming online it will have a new level of expectation put on the network for those “legendary” Apple products to work the way Steve intended. We’ve seen that with Sprint, and we’ll see it again with T-Mo. Its going to be an interesting 24 months for T-Mobile. Its really a make a break time for the company.

  • GBGamer

    Yes PLEASE! I hate going to Billings just to have to roam on AT&T, or going down to Phoenix and having 2G. IT’S PHOENIX! YOU SHOULD HAVE 3G THERE!

    • Way to go

      Phoenix, the capital is just like Albany, NY and Hartford, CT. A captial city with nothing but 2g. Way to go T-mumble!

  • jnexus

    Totally agree. Also the spotty coverage in certain areas needs to be addressed. At home I get barely any 2G if any signal at all. Funny thing is I take a walk a half block away next to the main boulevard, and I get HSPA+ with a reasonable number of bars. I called T-Mo and they said they know about this “dead zone” and it’s on their schedule but has been on hold indefinitely due to budget. WTH?

  • mdco

    I 100% agree with this article!

  • EDGE is the new 4G

    Look anywhere north of New York City. The coverage is laughable. It isnt even close to competitve. Im sure it is like that around the country. Wifi isnt the answer to everything. Grow your markets tmo!!

    • Coverage is a joke

      According to airportal there are exactly 6 towers in the entire state of New York north of NYC. One tower in Ithica and 5 in Buffalo. There isn’t a single tower within 100 miles of Albany – LOL.

  • gg555

    I sympathize with the sentiment of this article. But I think it’s not realistic about the economics of how this works for the carriers.

    If you look historically at how it came to pass that we have regular landline coverage and postal service for that matter, to every address in the U.S. no matter how rural, it’s because the Federal government required it. Back when there was only one phone company AT&T/”Ma Bell,” part of the deal AT&T got for having a monopoly was that they had to wire phone service to every location. In the case of the Postal Service, obviously the Federal government just provided the service itself.

    There was a general recognition that there was a large social good, as well as a promotion of free speech, by ensuring everyone had access to what were the major technologies of communication at the time for more or less the same cost.

    But then the cable television companies came along (in addition to breaking up AT&T in 1984) and this deal ended. Now we had smaller local companies and some (not real) competition. For these new companies it was not worth the cost of providing good service to the most remote locations. Instead they all focused on the lowest cost and highest value customers in major metropolitan areas.

    Most people simply don’t know or undestand this history.

    Now we have a two tier system, where major metropolitan areas get better service and lower costs for wired broadband and wireless service (although even in these areas there is no real competition, but more of a cartel like arrangement between the different carriers). There will never be an economic incentive for the service providers to change this. In a largely unregulated system the math just doesn’t work.

    So one might feel like T-Mobile and others should do a better job servicing rural areas and smaller metropolitan areas, but T-Mobile is not in the business of servicing the broad social good. That is the role of government. Unfortunately, we live in an era in which that role of government is constantly under attack and even those who believe in it do a poor job of defending it publically.

    It’s also worth noting that in the rest of the world, where there is real government regulation of the wired and wireless broadband industry, people have far better service, for on average half the cost as in the U.S. We in the U.S. are very ignorant of the rest of the world and tend to think we’re always ahead of everyone. But in this area we lag behind (again both on quality of servcie and cost). We rank behind not just most of Europe, but places like South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, China (for mobile broadband), Iceland, and even Lithuania. If people in the U.S. weren’t so ignorant of this reality, they’d be embarrassed.

    • I’m unfortunately fully aware of this. I chalk it up to America’s natural tendency to distrust the government rooted in colonial times. We’re all for privatization without considering the consequences of that. At some point, something must be done.

      • gg555

        Americans are often driven by their sense of individualism to a fault, for sure. But I think there’s more to it than that.

        From the 1930s until the mid 1970s we had a lot of large effective government programs and regulation, people generally accepted paying taxes (and taxes were frequently raised, not lowered), and all in all people thought the Federal government had an important role in managing the economy (whatever its imperfections might be). Of course, this also coincided with the era in which the U.S. had the largest economic expansion and growth (by far) in it’s history, general prosperity for the middle class, and became the singular global power.

        But I think fears born out of the Cold War were used by private enterprise and wealthy individuals to turn people against any government program, no matter how effective. Everything done by the Federal government to help middle class and lower income individuals was labeled a sign of Sovietism. And now we hear the constant cries of “socialism” applied in completely nonsensical ways, which show no real understanding of economics, government, or social policy.

        I also think the era of regulation and government programs from the 1930s to the 1970s was a reaction to the roaring 20s, the crash, and the robber barons of the late 19th century. But people have now forgotten how bad things were (poverty, inequality, working conditions, etc.) and so are willing to be talked out of rules and programs designed to prevent the abuses of that era.

        Now I think we’re in an era of things having to get worse, before they get better. Clearly the crisis of 2008 was not really enough to change anything.

        Ironically, the people who are hurt the most by out current hyper-privitatized system for wired and wireless broadband (the people who live in rural and smaller metropolitan areas), also tend to be those who are politically most opposed to government regulation and programs.

    • M42

      Regardless, it doesn’t explain or excuse T-Mobile for not keeping up with advancements. Every other carrier has them beat by a hundred miles. I never encounter 2G with AT&T or Verizon even in the most rural areas. But I can be on a busy, heavily traveled interstate near a large metropolitan area and the only coverage t-Mobile has is 2G.

      • gg555

        If you read my posts above and understand them it actually does explain and excuse T-Mobile. They’re doing what makes financial sense, given the size of their customer base and fincancial resources (which are not as big as the other major carriers). And given the current regulatory system and marketplace, as it is created by U.S. laws, T-Mobile is doing what makes the most sense to try to make money. They’re a business, not a public service provider. It’s not their job to care about people.

        Of course, if we had a market place that was regulated differently (for example, with one standard network system–like in Europe–so people could take their devices to any carrier and with network neutrality so carriers couldn’t charge more for texts which use almost no bandwidth or other services like tethering) then we’d have real competition. The only thing left for carriers to compete over would be the quality of their network and the price of bandwidth; then all the networks would be better, for less cost, not just T-Mobile’s.

        Or we could just require carriers to keep up in rural areas, in exchange for getting exclusive rights to certain frequency bands of the air waves, which for those who don’t understand belong to the public, not the carriers. (This was done very effectively when AT&T had a monopoly over the phone lines, so there’s no reason it couldn’t work now.)

        As it is, T-Mobile isn’t just choosing to not upgrade certain parts of the network because they’re bad mean people or stupid. They’re making the financial choices they need to and servicing the highest value customers and geographic regions first.

        Ultimately, it’s the laws and regulations that create the sort of marketplace and competition that we have. Businesses just do what makes sense within those contraints. So it really is our fault (the government, the voters) not T-Mobile’s. It’s better and cheaper in much of the rest of the world, because other countries have different laws and regulations, not because their wireless companies are smarter or nicer.

        That said, in the current situation, if people don’t like it, they can switch to other carriers, in areas where those carriers have better coverage. That’s where I think there is little “excuse.” People complaining when they have a choice. If you choose T-Mobile anyway, because they’re cheaper, you get what you pay for. If you don’t want to pay more for AT&T, then don’t complain. Or complain to the FCC and your Congressman, not to T-Mobile.

  • Mark Hennessey

    I think I’ve seen my “4G” coverage get smaller… areas that used to give me 4g/3g now yield pokey EDGE, and occasionally the dreaded G. I don’t know if they are refarming in the area (central Connecticut) or if the network is decaying….

  • What burns my ass is that I can walk 2 blocks down the road and get 4-5 bars of 4G signal, but in my own yard or house it drops to 1-2 bars of 2G. I tried to get a signal booster for my home, but they only supply those to households in 4G areas. RAGE!

    • M42

      You’re lucky to find even that much 4G. I’ve taken a microscope and I can hardly find it anywhere. And in all of my travels I’ve not once yet seen their 3G, only slow, crappy 2G.

  • T Mobile Employee

    To all,

    The old Nokia and Ericsson 2G equipment had maximum transmit power of 15 watts and solely work thru T1. The New Ericsson and Nokia equipment has a maximum transmit power of 60 Watts. T Mobile understand that that the 2G coverage was very poor and had Ericsson and Nokia design radio with amplifiers installed allowing the RF engineering department in every market to have remote access to adjust the power output as well as the adjusting the antenna tilts. In addition the New Nokia and Ericsson allow connection to ethernet connection for faster speed on GSM. I ask that you just give the company more time to moderized (upgrade) the existing network and you will have better coverage

    • My 2g sux

      Define how much “more time” I should give them? I signed a 2-year contract earlier this year for some (whatever)-Plan because the salesperson told me that I would have 3g coverage on my iPhone by the end of the year. Well, it’s the end of the year and I live in a capital city (Hartford, CT) and I have never seen 3g once anywhere in the state on my iPhone.

      Now the story is “give them more time” – Exactly how much more time do they need? Is my wasting another year on 2g enough time? How about 3 more years – or maybe 5 years is enough time for them to finish what they told me would be done by the end of THIS year.

      Can anyone at all even give me a REAL fooking estimate of when I can expect to see 3g in my capital city? Not some nonsense like “end of 2013/2014 or 2015” but a REAL date. Don’t they have this thing called a SCHEDULE over at T-mumble? Where can I see what areas have 3g on the iPhone? Oh wait – the answer is no, no no and you can’t.

      But just keep waiting – they need more time.

  • scsa852k@gmail.com

    Good stuff.
    LTE is very important for the future growth of the company for them to stay in the fight against other carriers because honeslty their money comes from those major markets.
    But I can’t imagine only having EDGE speed on your phone. I would rather not use a smartphone.

  • wingnut

    You are exactly correct. Couldn’t agree more. A coworker two desks away is with Verizon and is pulling down serious bits. I, meanwhile have to place my phone just right even to get a signal. Have to settle for one or two bars on Edge when I do get signal. Head home to visit my parents, and the entire valley is Edge using a lot of ATT’s towers. That is where TM needs to go.

  • Tmobilefanspeakingthetruth

    Funny, it said by T-Mobile they have 97% of Americans covered by 4G, BUT while traveling via car last week from out side Richmond VA to Macon GA I don’t recall such an experience while my counterpart using Mr. Verizon what 3G, 4G and Even LTE most of the trip.

    Believe what you want, but T-Mobile DOES have amazing 4G that in many cases ROCKS everyone BUT and I Say BUT that is only random islands of 4G with all the places people really live and travel are 2G.

    Thats just a fact!!

    One day they will realize this and make 2G at least 3G. Thats when you will see them winning!

    • Tmobilefanspeakingthetruth

      Oh failed to point this out…. The road traveled was one of the busiest in the US Interstate 95.

      And this is not a lone event, I have traveled from Atlanta Ga to Dallas, Tx and beleive me….. It is just as bad with some places GPRS only. On a major Interstate…… NO way!!!

      Please wake up T-Mobile

      • Nothing but 2g everywhere

        We drove from Hartford, CT up I-91 to the Mass Tpke. We then went west into NY State and took the NY State Thruway through Albany, NY (the capital) and all the way to Syracuse.

        I’m prepared to give you $1 million dollars for every time I saw 3g on my iPhone. Here’s your big fat NOTHING. For iPhone users who were promised large amounts of 3g by the end of 2012 – it’s nothing but 100% 2g edge and gprs all the way along the Mass Tpke and NY State thruway.

        How impressive – NOT!

      • superg05

        thats the thing about the 700 band you don’t need very many tower cause the signal travel miles and penetrates well and verizion an at&t the dual bells practically have a monopoly on it and spectrum and general

  • RJ Scott

    Good article. I work across the street from the busiest airport in the world, ATL and while the 4G indicator on my S3 occasionally lights up, the data service is horrible. In fact, T-Mobile data service is poor throughout the western side of metro-Atlanta where I live. When I hit I20 going to Birmingham, AL the signal drops to G for nearly the entire 3 hour drive. Once I arrive at my destination about 30 minutes north-west of Birmingham I no longer have coverage of any kind. So once a month or so I go without voice or data for three days.

  • M42

    Do you know how T-Mobile covers 97% of America? It’s by letting their customers roam on AT&T.

  • Steve Park

    I have been stuck on EDGE or worst, GPRS since I got my first phone with internet (WAP) access 10+ years ago on T-Mobile (Powertel, VoiceStream). My current phone has the 42 HSPA+ radio, but around here in Kentucky, you are lucky to see anything over 4 Mbps down and all I see at home is .17 Mbps or less 2G, but with full 5 bars signal. T-Mobile is spending a ton of money go get all those Iphone sheep back, when if they had spent the money on updating/upgrading their exsisting 2G network to at LEAST 3G speed, they would not have lost them in the first place. Horses and barn doors comes to mind…..

    • Mirad77

      You’ve come this far so just hang in there.

    • Verizonthunder

      i agree totally that is how you keep customer’s is upgrade your network

  • zx6guy

    This article is spot on and overdue.

  • Winski

    So now, T-Mumble announces a new SoCal “BUBBLE” that encompasses Santa Ana… Poof!!!! That’s it for Orange County AND all of the Camp Pendleton/San Diego area where the MOST customers live in Southern California… AARRGGHHHHhhhh…..

  • Hal J.

    very spotty coverage in and near the Sparr Heights and Verdugo Woodlands Glendale California area. If T-mobile would concentrate on the coverage more and increasingly to upgrade to LTE, they would certainly retain more customers.

  • Ĵϵṟϵṃψ Ψαñ

    I totally agree. A lot of my friends chose Verizon because they like the assurance that when they travel, when they go hiking, when they go wherever, they are more likely to be covered. Even they do that a couple of times a year.

  • Porkrinds

    I live in Brandon, FL and have almost no coverage (despite the coverage maps saying otherwise) both inside and outside, and then out at work it’s solid EDGE coverage. Only reason I stay is because it’s $30 a month (prepaid/walmart plan).

    That, and their CS is a tad bit better than going with Tracfone companies for AT&T towers @ $45/month.

  • jcj1

    This article is unnecessary as T-Mobile has already begun refarming their 2G to 3G/4G. Must be old or slow news day

    • superg05

      this was written December 10, 2012

  • JayBeeZee

    I know this is old, but… there isn’t any Tmob coverage between Jackson and Shreveport. That’s a really big gap and ~3 hour drive on I20. I can imagine people going between Dallas and Atlanta on Tmobile feel like they are in the dark ages for that stretch.

    Yet, they have the 4G billboards in a few places up in Jackson. That’s great. However leave Hinds county and you’re back to 2G.

  • theresolution

    Ok,
    I had to comment here. Great article by the way! I have been with T-Mobile since
    the days of Powertel. I live in the Jackson, MS metro area and the coverage
    here is still just as bad. They advertise 4g here and we only have 3g in a very
    small area. There is no roaming in this area. I know several people that would
    love to switch to T-Mobile but the coverage is just not here. It’s sad when
    your friends have coverage with ATT, Verizon or CSpire and you can’t even make
    a call let alone have data service. I have unlimited data with a GS3 but what
    good does it do me.

    I really want T-Mobile to succeed but the coverage needs to
    get better now! You can’t keep neglecting the smaller markets and expect to
    make it when the other carriers has had 3g here for several years and are now
    moving to LTE. Hell, CSpire has already lit up some LTE areas here. If CSpire
    had released the GS3 when I was ready to upgrade I would be with them as their
    plans are just as much a value as T-Mobile. Let’s just hope the new CEO see
    this article, all of the comments and realize this is a big problem that needs
    to be solved.

  • JayMoney88

    True and this one I REALLY hope they are working on for 2013

  • patstar5

    Exactly! My coverage in my area in Texas has 2g. While Att has hspa+. Have bad AT&T service in my town but 20 miles away I got 10mbps on hspa+. Also AT&T has hspa+ in other smaller cities while tmobile is only in metropolis areas.

  • patstar5

    Exactly! My coverage in my area in Texas has 2g. While Att has hspa+. Have bad AT&T service in my town but 20 miles away I got 10mbps on hspa+. Also AT&T has hspa+ in other smaller cities while tmobile is only in metropolis areas.

  • CWEST

    I live 45 mins from T-Mobile Corporate Headquarters and I can barely make a call half the time let alone get anything better than EDGE. My community has 30,000 plus people in it and it is all EDGE only.

  • spritemoney

    Anybody remember this map from the Jan 2011 investors meeting? http://www.tmonews.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Screen-shot-2011-01-20-at-11.16.56-AM.png It’s 2013 and this DID NOT even come close of happening.

    • AT&T paralyzed them shortly afterward. They didn’t get much done at all that year. I expect that to have been pushed back to 2014 or 2015 with the announcement of modernization and LTE.

      • spritemoney

        I was thinking the same thing after I posted that comment. I really hope your prediction is right for 2014 or 2015. Honestly Phillip Humm and the AT&T deal really crippled T-Mobile, but it’s good that now they’re trying to be the Uncarrier. I’m not going to leave T-Mobile anytime soon, infact I got an iPhone for Christmas and now I’m happily using it on T-Mobile (with fast speeds). Currently I cannot recommend T-Mobile to a friend because of how their coverage is. John Legere is the savior of T-Mobile.

      • superg05

        please send this article to t-mobile ceo John.Legere@T-Mobile.com not just a link copy&paste maybe? he’s suppose to be at the other end a college should be a great place for upgraded deployment let him know

  • Bill Berry

    I absolutely agree with this article…if I cannot benefit from the high data speeds why can I not be allowed to use my old $5.99 unlimited plan? We have a donut hole here in the state of GA centered on Thomaston; Thomaston is a city, not a town, nada..zip, no T-Mobile whatsoever and I’m sick of begging. As for their towers they’re not like AT&T and Verizon Wireless; they restrict their high speed to dense population centers; if you’re in the country; forget it. Not even the interstates through these areas are high speed.

  • TmoJohnstownCustomer

    Where I live, I really only see EDGE and GPRS (Johnstown/Altoona PA region). Generally it is EDGE in town and GPRS along highways and rural areas between. I have to drive about 40 miles to see any 3G (UMTS). Last week, something interesting happened. I live under one of the GPRS towers and noticed that the signal kept fading in and out, so I switched to wifi calling. A few hours later, I turned off wifi calling and saw the GPRS has become EDGE! I’m hoping that this means the tower was upgraded to something modern like HSPA (But not yet “turned on”, but do not yet know. Would Tmo really invest in EDGE in 2013? I’m staying optimistic for now and I’ll post if I ever see “3G” on my phone. For now, at least it is an improvement. EDGE is slow but usable: GPRS typically timed out for everything: it was ridiculously slow. I agree with this editorial: if Tmo wants to expand, it has to be consistent and it needs to truly have nationwide high speed data. Some of the neighboring towers are still GPRS, So I can only wait and see if any changeover happens.

  • Blackberry 9900

    i live in New Haven County ,CT and always have problems with T mobile network .it can drop signal from 4G to GPRS OR EDGE or no service in seconds .I always wonder why I’m still with T mobile ,very poor coverage .UMA or Wifi calling now works ok ,but not always.I guess you get what you pay for .

  • disqus_R5vGq49Ttt

    I bow down to the writer of this article! I left AT&T after several years to go to T-Mobile. I live in city limits and for the most part have solid 4G coverage. My issue is when I leave the city limits AT ALL I have 100% 2G EDGE. I live in North Carolina. I would say that 90% of two major interstates here (I-95 & I-40) are 2G ONLY. Out where my family lives it’s 2G only where when I had at&t 4 years ago it was 3G. It’s absurd to know that 4 years down the road T-mobile can only offer 2G where AT&T had 3G coverage that far back. I have been to several part’s of the country and my experience is that T-mobile has HUGELY WIDESPREAD area’s saturated ONLY with 2G coverage. We say that they want to focus on larger markets first for monetary reasons, I understand that in part. The bigger picture is though…of the towns that have let’s say 50,000+ people in them that are solid 2G markets…how on earth do they think they are going to attract a smartphone user? T-Mobile your LARGE 2G coverage footprint hand’s down is your biggest flaw. Yes your cheaper then the rest….but the age old “You get what ya paid for” should be your tagline.At your current rate….I feel like the large 2G area’s in my state will finally be 3G in the year 2020 when Verizon, At&T, MetroPCS(haha) have deployed a 15G network that can teleport people.

  • if only there was a way to submit this to a t-mobile ceo but t-mobile already got a contract to improve service in rural areas from the gov but t mobiles the type to wait for a launch date or something so if they made improvements they have not flipped the switch yet

  • M42

    I’m going to print this article out, frame it and send it to T-Mobile’s CEO.

  • cpeeps

    Tmo’s biggest weakness is that as soon as you leave a major city, you have to switch carriers. Tmo can’t survive by only servicing people that live/work/refuse-to-ever-leave a major city. In NC, if you don’t live in Charlotte, Greensboro, or Raleigh you get EDGE at best with Tmo. Verizon, Sprint, and ATT, however, mostly cover the state.