T-Mobile chiefs critical of RootMetrics’ recent results

TMo_Neville_Ray_4G_metro_markets

A day or two ago RootMetrics published a report measuring each of the four major US carriers against each other. Sadly – for us T-Mobile fans – Magenta finished rock bottom of the pile. You can take a look at the end results in the image below:

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 17.18.17

These results are all based on tests done in the final half of 2013. As for how the company tests, its official statement on its methodology is as follows:

We apply these standards to professionally measure how each network performs across a broad range of consumer-oriented mobile activities: data, call, and text. We then distill the results of our testing into consumer-friendly RootScore Reports that summarize network performance at the national, state, metro, and airport levels.

The frustrating part for T-Mobile’s executives is that a lot of this data was taken before its higher speed LTE network was in full effect. T-Mobile’s CTO, Neville Ray, spoke at a conference in San Francisco and stated that Tmo’s approach to wireless performance is based on independent tests done by actual customers. In its keynote speech at CES in January, the carrier used Ookla’s Speedtest.net platform. Results in those tests showed that – on average – T-Mobile’s LTE network is the fastest. Painting a very different picture to the one from RootMetrics’ findings.

Ray also remarked that that the report was “pretty much funded by wireless carriers“. But he wasn’t the only T-Mobile executive to have his say on the matter. As you’d expect, John Legere took to Twitter to voice his own opinion. GeekWire collected a handful of them:

“Congrats to our competitors – you guys really knocked it out of the park on that report, LAST year when the tests were done”

“We’ve said it before, but I’m happy to say it again. We look at REAL results from REAL people when we make network claims.”

“Our claims are made on speed tests done by actual customers on their devices. Theirs are made by a guy driving around in a BMW”

But, T-mobile clearly isn’t under any illusions about its coverage overall, particularly in rural areas. It knows it has to improve. During the aforementioned conference, Ray also stated that Tmo would be focussing on rural areas and part of that is going to happen when the A-block 700MHz spectrum starts rolling out towards the end of this year.

“When we move out into rural areas where we don’t serve, obviously we don’t have a competitive experience. But we are working on that. We will be working on that more with what we do with our [700 MHz] A Block deployment. And we look to level the playing field across a broader swath of geography across the coming years.”

Of course, he also made sure we knew just how much of the country is now covered by LTE. Its high speed network now covers 209 million people, growing to 230 million by the mid-point of this year. Before 2015 arrives, we should see 250 million covered. In most of those, the 10+10 network is in place, while 20+20 is slowly being deployed. As it stands, T-Mobile now covers 94 out of the top 100 markets with LTE.

What do you guys make of T-Mobile LTE roll-out? Is it making the right moves? To me it makes complete sense that a carrier would focus on the major metro areas before turning its attention to the rural locations. Making sure that most of its subscriber base can benefit from faster and more reliable coverage is a wise business move. And – given that it hasn’t been able to compete with AT&T and Verizon when trying to acquire more spectrum, it’s not done badly.

I guess a more important question, given the results of RootMetrics’ tests is whether you think Magenta will ever be able to shake the “poor coverage” preconception?

Report via: RootMetrics
Additional via: FierceWireless, GeekWire, PCMag
Image Credit: CBS Interactive

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  • VapidRapidRabbit

    Until they get rid of their pathetic EDGE coverage outside of city centers, they’ll always come up short compared to AT&T and Verizon. The CEO himself once said that they don’t cover the “boonies” and this study reflects that. Maybe he should have the company do something about it if they don’t like the way their network is perceived by the consumers who participated in this study.

    • Jose Hernandez

      Not sure if you got the whole article.

      They acknowledged they need to improve, and have started to do just that.

      It will take time, but they will (Hopefully) get there sooner rather than later.

    • themask128

      If you don’t like the t-mobile service than maybe you should not be using it. They have made huge strides in the past year to deploy LTE faster than I have seen any other carrier in the US deploy LTE. Take a look a sprint they still dont have a full LTE network through a lot of the US.

      • VapidRapidRabbit

        Oh I don’t, I switched back to AT&T last month and enjoy HSPA+ and LTE everywhere I go. I had T-Mobile from September 2006 until February 2014, but it’s people like you that are a problem. Don’t come at me abrasively because I think T-Mobile’s network could be better. Good on them for upgrading cities that already have 42 Mbps HSPA+ to LTE while leaving all of the surrounding areas on EDGE, but I travel all around the US and T-Mobile doesn’t cut it – you can literally see No Service, GPRS, EDGE, and HSPA+ in the span of a few blocks. They need to work on problems like that.

        • SEBA

          I agree!

        • themask128

          They have stated many times they need to improve rural coverage though unlike att and Verizon they don’t have deep pocket books in the billions to acquire spectrum It has not been until recently that they deployed LTE and if they hadn’t they would be in a poor position like sprint whose bleeding customers

        • Stone Cold

          I agree there are still major holes in coverage they need to correct and they are working on it. And you made the choice you had to for your coverage needs that is why we have choices.

        • KlausWillSeeYouNow

          You’ll soon rediscover what millions already knew: AT&T’s HSPA may be more widely available, but it’s also far slower. No HSPA+42… as an ex-AT&T customer, that was one of the reasons I switched from them.

          One thing I’m having trouble understanding… T-Mobile’s coverage was acceptable for you in 2006 but not in 2014? (It’s only substantially improved since then.) What’s up with that?

        • VapidRapidRabbit

          T-Mobile has ended various roaming agreements in my area and they haven’t updated their towers to HSPA+. So they have lost coverage. Plus, they are still only on EDGE in almost all places here, so AT&T’s “slower” HSPA+ (that is 10 Mbps down, 2 Mbps up) is still faster than anything T-Mobile cares to provide, not to mention they have this region blanketed with LTE (30 Mbps down, 15 Mbps up) and it is fast enough for anything I’d ever do on my phone.

    • philyew

      The point that the company is making is that the results on “crowd-sourced” tools like Speedtest tells a very different story than that portrayed by Rootmetrics, whose reports are funded by the carriers and carried out by employees, not consumers.

      I live thirty miles from downtown and can get results consistently in excess of 12mbps in my home. Experiences vary, of course, but there are 5 million people living within that radius of this city center and most are now covered by TM LTE.

  • BryanB

    As a Kansas City resident, I have enjoyed LTE since the launch on March 26th of last year. I literally have no problems with the network. Showing my friends (who are mostly T-Mobile users now) how im pulling 30meg down with ~42ms latency is quite fun.

  • Fr0stTr0n

    Just switched to TMo from AT&T last night in Seattle and so far, i’m not impressed with the LTE coverage/speed out here. Its subpar at best compared to ATT… So much for that all pink coverage I see on Tmobiles website…

    • besweeet

      Tip to everyone: Test T-Mobile with their prepaid service before really switching.

      • Fr0stTr0n

        Well if I recall, I do have 20 days to decide if I wanna leave T-mobile entirely and not get charged for it.

        • besweeet

          I guess that’s fine so long as whatever you go back to doesn’t cost more. My old AT&T plan was noticeably cheaper than their newer ones, so I would’ve been left with higher rates if I went back to them. Glad that’s not the case.

        • Fr0stTr0n

          Going back to AT&T and I would pay more after loosing my older plan before the lame ass family share data crap

        • archerian

          if you were to buy a device too, would you have to pay the restocking fee?

        • Stone Cold

          Yep normally like 50.00

    • BK

      I haven’t tried AT&T in Seattle, but I switched from Sprint to T-Mobile in Seattle a couple of months ago, and the speeds are absolutely fantastic. I tend to stay in the metro area, but even when venturing out when I do, coverage has been good. There are spotty areas here and there, but that happens with any carrier. I rarely do not have LTE, so I’m not sure which Seattle you’re referring to. :)

    • calid

      Same here in los angeles i got tmobile and speed wise its less than att. Im also not impressed att speed was average 15 to 20 dwn tmobile is 2 to 5 average with bursts of 8 on a good day . Call quality its beter than att yes i admit att had crappy call quality but then again att had faster lte n got signal deep in buildings were as tmobile goes to searching.

  • S. Ali

    They shouldn’t be too critical, fact is a lot of regions are still covered with EDGE and they have poor building penetration. While most metro have great speeds, you lose most of these benefits the moment you step into a store, office, or home. These result reflect those issues so they shouldn’t go into damage control. I’d like to see T-Mobile get more aggressive with coverage, just like they have with rate plans. They should look at these results as a wake-up call. Many customers don’t want to “wait” for network upgrades like Sprint (3-years running now).

    We keep hearing about 700mhz deployment (which CAN’T start until the next auction is approved – late 2014, early 2015), but nothing prevents them from deploying on 1900mhz TODAY nationwide (just like Sprint is doing NOW) and then following up with 700mhz when approved. If Legere and Company are serious, they could start deploying on major highways, top 1000 markets, and select rural towns TODAY. They have built tremendous momentum, but 1 or 2 years out, you have to deliver on the coverage end too. I can only hope that behind the scenes TMO is inking deals to build a rural alliance (e.g Verizon LTEiRA) to close the gap.

    • besweeet

      My theory is that they need more money. Capture more subscribers from the larger cities to where you can start making enough money to economically cover those EDGE/GPRS-only rural areas, and everyone will be happy. I think we’ll start seeing more aggressive rural upgrades in 2016.

      • S. Ali

        Yeah, in the near-term they want to build subscriber numbers to increase their value (and investors), however in the long-term they haven’t laid out a plan for growth. We know they will participate in spectrum auctions, but that doesn’t tell use about their network build-out. For all of Sprints short-comings, three years ago they proposed Network Vision (a complete overhaul) and have been building what I think will be a network that will be stronger and faster than Verizon. They made a plan, and stuck to it. TMO has made no such plans, and haven’t even laid out a 2-3 years outlook. So either they are really hoping to be acquired or they are playing it by ear. Uncarrier has been great for marketing, but there has to be greater urgency on network coverage.

        • besweeet

          I might’ve been reading this from complaint message boards, but weren’t a lot of Sprint’s plans lies or delayed? Seems like they’re taking their time. Spark’s a big joke, at least from my testing in San Antonio.

        • UMA_Fan

          Uh sprint plans are always just ‘plans’ because they always fail to execute. Tmobile went from 0 to 220 million pops covered with LTE in just 10 months

        • philyew

          They are still executing the plan that they launched in March 2012 to carry out network modernization across their 3G/HSPA+ footprint and extend LTE across that whole area.

          Completing that program will get them to their original target of 225M POPs and beyond that to the 229M to which the footprint has subsequently grown.

          They seem to have filled in a temporary target for the rest of this year, indicating that they will be able to bring LTE to a further 20M POPs through the use of the 700MHz A-block licenses (though Fierce Wireless’ interpretation of Neville Ray’s comments today suggests the 250M target for 2015 is entirely based on AWS and they could get a higher number, if A-block comes into play). The rest of the plan focuses on signal strength and speed within the existing footprint, through the deployment of 20+20 wideband using AWS, and the A-block licenses.

          It seems pretty clear to me that they understandably have no appetite for setting out a serious program for advances in rural coverage using only AWS and PCS. This means two things:

          (a) they need more sub-1GHz before they look to launch a longer term plan for rural coverage, and
          (b) they need the funding to cover the necessary spectrum acquisition that entails.

          Because of the precarious balance between corporate value and debt that exists in the company at the moment, it seems equally apparent that they need to build the value of the company substantially in order to counter-balance the increased debt that will result from participation in next year’s incentive auction for the 600MHz band, as well as any other A-block spectrum they can pick up. All the aggressive pursuit of additional subscribers must be about optimizing the market cap so that the anticipated debt to fund this spectrum acquisition doesn’t reach a level any higher than what it is currently suggested to be (~80% by some estimates).

          Without the certainty of acquiring additional sub-1GHz spectrum, which will allow them to limit the number of rural cell sites that need provisioning, there really isn’t the basis to lay out another long term network plan.

        • MastarPete

          IIRC there was a network roadmap (not sure if it was leaked) within the last two years, pretty sure it was here on TMONews. It might have been around the time of their initial LTE announcement.

          The gist of it was they want to cannibalize 2G GSM (1900mhz) in favor of HSPA and LTE with the goal of eventually giving LTE 20×20 where available. From what I’ve read since that hasn’t changed much, so no one has had a need to bring up the topic again in a major way and its mostly just, “yep its still going good.”

          Technically with LTE based technologies in position to be the next global standard all they have to do is continue what they’ve been doing and look at gaining more spectrum. Reorganizing for whatever spectrum they acquire later on should be simple if I understand how they’re modernizing their towers.

          I mean it’s not like they’re Sprint, trying to juggle 3 or 4 different network technologies and trying to decide which one to throw their resources at.

          I’d like TMO to at least cover the insterstate highways with HSPA/LTE. Realistically I don’t excpet that to happen until they have gained enough customers to clearly pull ahead of Sprint and gain some ground against ATT.

      • MastarPete

        Money is definitely a big part of the problem. It really hasn’t helped that all this time Deutche Telecom has seemingly only wanted
        TMO-US for a revenue stream and never properly reinvested to continue growing the network. DT’s financial troubles aside, once they got the idea to try and sell off TMO long term planning seemingly froze until after the ATT merger failed. If anything, they might have had LTE at some kind of pre-planning stage considering how quickly they seemed to get that buildout going.

        A big reason I don’t want to see a SoftBank merger go through is TMO would be in the exact same position it’s been in – at the mercy of a controlling parent company that is looking to siphon off the profits. Son’s interest in Tmobile so soon after acquiring Sprint speaks volumes.

        • philyew

          The effect is probably the same, but your description of DT’s desire to use TM only as a revenue stream somewhat mis-characterizes the situation. The problem always has been that DT paid way too much to acquire Voicestream and Powertel, when they sank around $55 billion in cash and assumed debt, in return for less than 6M subscribers. As a result, they’ve been chasing that lousy investment for over a decade.

          Compare the subscribers and assets tied into the infrastructure now when Softbank have been raising “only” $45 billion to cover the takeover.

        • Jay Holm

          DT originally paid $55bln for T-Mobile way back? Wow!!!

        • MastarPete

          Yeah, fair enough I guess. Either way, T-mobile missed out on spectrum auctions and was left on it’s own to expand and improve coverage.

        • philyew

          The big one was the 2008 auction of the 700MHz band. At the time they were stuck unable to deploy and make a cent from their investment in the 2006 AWS auction, because the previous occupants were dragging their feet clearing out. I’ve seen numbers as high as $4.2 billion for their spending on that and they couldn’t get a single market live until 2-3 months after the 700MHz auction closed. Bad luck piled on bad judgment.

    • philyew

      Why is the start of the A-block deployment dependent on the next auction being approved?

      I agree that the A-block deployment can’t be completed until the channel 51 issue is removed through the changes that will be enabled by the 600MHz incentive auction, but why can’t TM start their work in those areas that don’t have channel 51 broadcasters?

  • http://about.me/daylondeon Deacon

    i put no weight on these reports. i can go around and do my own reports and i’m sure Sprint will be dead last as i’m sure most who do real reports would.

    • Wire

      I’m sure that you’re dead wrong. T-mobile is all smoke and mirrors.

      • T-Mo Supporter

        You are the one who is dead wrong. Sprint is the worst network possible hands down. Horrible data, voice quality and even text. I have been with all 4 of the big US carriers so I speak from experience here. I had Voicestream before it became T-Mobile and was not bad then switched to Sprint and immediately left within 14 days to the new T-Mobile. Then switched to Verizon because my new job (24th floor) did not get great reception for T-Mobile. I paid out the wazoo at Verizon ($150 for 1 line with 6 GB back in 2011, 900 minutes and unlimited texts) then switched back to Sprint June 2012 as they were launching there LTE and got tired of waiting so left and switched to AT&T (something I swore I’d never do) in end of June 2012 and have not been happier. I have 4 lines 15GB Mobile Share Value Plan at $190 with unlimited minutes and text and a 20% corporate discount on the initial $130 for the unlimited minutes and text and data and then 20% off my primary lines $15 monthly charge for a smartphone in the Share Plan. I get 25 mbps down and 10 mbps up consistently and in great areas I get 45-50 mbps down and 15-20 mbps up. After taxes and all discounts I pay $175 a month for 4 lines with 15GB of data shared. We sometimes run over and I just switch to the 20GB plan and pay $200 total a month. Not bad for 4 lines with great voice service, text and lightning fast data speeds whenever and wherever we need it.

  • archerian

    Most ISPs do traffic shaping when connecting to Ookla and Speedtest so as to get higher speeds. Looking at rootmetrics results vs what I have seen in real life at those places, it is a very accurate portrayal of the network for T-mobile.

    • T-Mo Supporter

      Ookla and Speedtest are one in the same.

      • archerian

        not really, that’s like saying Toyota and Camry are one and the same… Speedtest is one of the applications Ookla makes. It is by far their most popular, bur not their only network metric measurement application.

    • MastarPete

      What, you think Tmobile would seriously only traffic shape for one speed test site?
      I mean if you’re going to traffic shape to inflate your speed test results it seems more than a bit silly they’d overlook RootMetrics in their shaping considering they made a somewhat big announcement a while back (summer ’12 iirc) saying data used to run the RootMetrics test would not count against people’s monthly allotment.

      Keep in mind it requires a large pipe to be able to host the test servers people connect to for testing. I don’t know what RootMetric’s server situation is like, but I do know Ookla has tons of servers and even more third party hosts running on servers with internet backbone access, all geographically spread out so you can pick the closest server to you. Does RootMetrics have that high a level of connectivity?

      It would not surprise me in the least that an Ookla result could be faster than a RootMetric result. At the very least, T-mobile cherry picked the results they’re basing their advertising on.

      • archerian

        I don’t think rootmetrics has such a wide network of test servers as Ookla. I read a CNET article a while ago, if I remember correctly it seems the official reports are created by rootmetrics drive testers, but their map is formed by crowd sourced data from normal users.

  • SEBA

    I need a drink…

  • obeythelaw

    It’s odd to see so many praise AT&T now, when for years they were always behind Verizon and even Sprint/Nextel. What T-Mobile has done is nothing short of amazing in a little bit of time and actually used the spectrum they got and the money from the failed AT&T merger towards network upgrades. Yes, if you live 50 miles outside of NYC, T-Mobile isn’t going to be that great in terms of data speeds. Yes, I agree that the building penetration isn’t that great even in NYC or a few miles out. However, my cell phone bill is the lowest it has ever been. When I finish my EIP, it will be even lower. And 90% of the time, I have great voice coverage and LTE. The 10% of the time, it is not worth it for me to deal with death start AT&T or Big Red Verizon. With T-Mobile, I get HD Voice, unlimited international texting and only 20 cents minute when I travel internationally and unlimited data the 90% of the time I am in LTE coverage.

    • Spanky

      I live in NYC and, in my neighborhood, T-Mobile is nowhere near great in terms of data speeds.

      • Prox

        I live and work in NYC and have the exact opposite experience. Fast speeds and coverage.

  • sushimane

    For me I don’t care what anything say T-Mobile in my books are overall good for the price,speed it beats all. I don’t expect much from cellphone carrier just give me the ability to talk, text, data for a good price with the ability to switch phone after paying it off or switch phone after 6 months or so that’s a bonus in my opinion. No carrier is perfect.

  • maximus1901

    He said T-Mobile will expand coverage using AWS spectrum and not the 700 MHz A Block spectrum T-Mobile is buying from Verizon. Using that spectrum, T-Mobile could expand LTE coverage beyond 250 million POPs in 2015, Ray said.

    Read more: T-Mobile’s Ray knocks RootMetrics report, lays out LTE vision – FierceWireless http://www.fiercewirelesscom/story/t-mobiles-ray-knocks-rootmetrics-report-lays-out-lte-vision/2014-03-06#ixzz2vDJzYBOY
    Subscribe at FierceWireless

    • philyew

      I’m surprised, if that is the case, they haven’t already taken advantage and been more aggressive about the numbers. It shouldn’t be too difficult to work out how far they can extend LTE service based on A-block deployment to the cell sites that make up the perimeter of the current footprint in the A-block license area.

      • Moby

        They were too busy upgrading the big cities to LTE last year. They weren’t going to waste time on the little hick towns before that was done first. Priorities, priorities.

        • philyew

          Of course, but if they now intend to get to 250m this year using AWS, then the deployment of 700MHz in Q4 will give them a good chance of getting to 260m+, so I’m surprised they aren’t saying as much.

  • JMF_mobile

    Not sure what constitutes a “market” but Des Moines Iowa is the 92nd largest metropolitan area in U.S. with just over a half million people and we still don’t have LTE. TMO has lit up much smaller cities according to their coverage postings. Rather frustrating… Fortunately HSPA+ speeds are respectable – usually between 5 and 10 Mbps downloads for me.

    • JB45

      I feel your pain….Cincinnati metro has over 2.4 million people and we are still sitting on HSPA 21. Maybe both of us will get lit up by the end of the year. Even though im sure you have a better chance than we do.

      • JMF_mobile

        I do feel a bit better knowing others feeling the pain. :). though, if Cincinnati isn’t active yet doesn’t give me much hope of getting it here any time soon.

        • Jay Holm

          Well, Neville Ray did say 250 million with LTE by years end, that’s 41 million more than what it’s currently at, so maybe Cincinnati will get LTE by years end.

        • yeah right

          Not only is that 41 million more but probably double the square mileage of the current footprint. After 200 million the incremental gains are mostly to be found in suburbia.

  • Carl

    Seems pretty accurate especially when you consider rural coverage. Speeds is not worth anything if there is no coverage.

  • TemplarofLTE

    I’m kind of frustrated by John Legere’s response.
    I appreciate his enthusiasm, and I
    LOVE LTE and seeing it all around
    Akron, OH, where I was born, and
    Huntsville, AL, where I grew up.

    But what RootMetrics reveals is what I’ve disliked all along: as soon as you leave big and medium cities, T-Mo falls back to 2G.

    2G happens to T-Mo customers even, sometimes, in densely populated areas that are East of the Mississippi River.

    When I drive from Alabama to Ohio, even though I have a phone compatible with T-Mo’s latest networks (AWS LTE and PCS HSPA+), I spend more than 60% of the time on 2G.

    Consider Athens, AL:

    a town of 20,000 people just outside of Huntsville (in the next county over), that is RIGHT next to the interstate I-65, with restaurants and gas stations all along the Interstate exits.

    The whole town is 2G. You don’t pick up 3G or better until you cross the Interstate heading toward Huntsville. So even though Huntsville and other cities in the region have LTE, when you drive through Athens on I-65, 2G pops up on your signal indicator.

    http://sensorly.com/map/2G-3G/US/USA/T-Mobile/gsm_310260#q=Athens%2C+AL%2C+USA

    I perceive that RootMetrics reveals that T-Mo is doing a great job with LTE deployment overall, but John Legere and the rest of T-Mo’s leadership need to humbly acknowledge that there is room for improvement.

    P. S. I have friends who are dissatisfied with Verizon, and want to switch to T-Mobile when I sing its praises, but are LITERALLY waiting until “T-Mobile’s coverage improves.”

    • Jay Holm

      That likely won’t happen until sometime next year when 700 A-Block gets deployed, and well, we’ll just have to see if it is deployed in markets that currently only have 2G. . . . . .

    • War Eagle

      We are in the same location and I can’t agree more. I’ve been on T-Mobile since 2002 and as long as I’m in our near town it’s great. If I go More than 10 miles outside of town I drop to 2G. I have noticed that their coverage has improved with my travels to El Paso, Tacoma, and Lawton but the areas surrounding are lacking as well. The value is too good (5 lines with data) but it’d be nice to not have to roam onto Corr wireless to make calls or get texts on 2G. The Wi-Fi casing has been the saving grace for T-Mobile because of this.

      • TemplarofLTE

        I concur! Without Wi-Fi Calling, I would have to have AT&T to use my phone in crappy concrete buildings at my university.

    • KlausWillSeeYouNow

      He will never say (and shouldn’t) that there is a coverage problem. Because that would never sway anyone to switch, and also give AT&T and Verizon amno. But coverage is improving, just silently. Hang on tight and I’m sure Ray will work his magic with the 700 MHz very soon.

      • TemplarofLTE

        Well, yeah. The 700 MHz will be a magic potion for Cincinnati, OH, where Magenta has been unable to roll out LTE until now.

        http://imgur.com/diDRZgp

        But I’m talking about the rural highways between Cincinnati / Dayton and Columbus, or between Cincinnati and Louisville.

        http://imgur.com/xpVizPC
        (Blue represents where 2G signal has been logged)

        The 700 MHz spectrum doesn’t cover everywhere in this area. They’re either going to have to buy more low-band spectrum, or, what is easier for a short-term solution:
        just roll out PCS HSPA+ along the highways.

        They are already broadcasting a signal from towers in the rural places I’m describing, AND it’s already on the PCS band! It’s just only 2G.

        As far as I can tell, it’s totally within their power to add PCS HSPA+ everywhere there is Blue on these maps. T-Mo has at least 30 MHz of spectrum between Louisville and Columbus. That’s enough for 10 MHz of 2G with plenty left over for 3G.

        http://imgur.com/l5oQluH

        The issue for T-Mobile is the expense of installing new equipment and buying a fast Internet connection to all of those towers that are in the middle of nowhere. They have to be willing to invest the money and effort to make it happen.

    • Former Morgan County Resident

      i know a few walmart straight talk users in that area that use at&t’s network because of that. Nothing is showing up in Decatur, AL and they are LTE. It even shows up on T-mobile’s list of LTE cities. So I’m wondering if that sensorly map has been updated in real time.

      • TemplarofLTE

        Well, with regard to Sensorly:
        Sensorly’s strength (and weakness) is that it only maps coverage precisely where an Android phone has reported receiving a certain number of bars of a certain network type.

        I can attest that in Madison & Limestone Counties, I am clearly the only person who has logged coverage for T-Mobile using an LTE-capable phone. Unfortunately, Decatur isn’t a place I have had occasion to drive into much since I bought my HTC One.

        Sensorly won’t show any LTE for Decatur until someone with a Magenta LTE phone drives there.

      • TemplarofLTE

        Sometimes, I wish I could drive everywhere in the U.S.
        with four phones, one each that can connect to the latest network technologies for every major carrier,
        simply because maps like Sensorly’s are so incomplete in some places.

  • Prox

    that crappy ad on the side blocks the content of the article, quality work here.

  • kalel33

    “he also made sure we knew just how much of the country is now covered by LTE. Its high speed network now covers 209 million people”

    Just a correction, but it should say, ” he also made sure we knew just how much of the POPULATION is now covered by LTE.” The first sentence you talked about geography and in the second was population. Coverage by population and land are not equal.

    • philyew

      Indeed, but since the only metric he used to convey the point was population, it is pretty clear what he meant.

    • Singleweird

      “people” drives the point home.

    • larry

      Exactly. But it’s also marketing wonk speak to make you think “the country” when you equate the volume of people…who all just happen to live in a big-opolis like LA, DC, NYC, Chicago, etc. I don’t care that 209 million people are covered. I care that this one person, me, gets coverage ANYWHERE I need/want to go. That’s where TMO falls short and needs to work it big time.

      • philyew

        Actually, it’s a common British idiom to use “country” in reference to the population, rather than just the geography. For example, phrases like “the country is up in arms about this” and “the government will be going to the country on May 11th” i.e. they will be holding an election on that date.

  • john

    Brand new s4 in sd and constant static on calls and tons of dropped calls. The only reason I stay with tmobile is its cheaper. But with Verizon I never dropped calls and never had static

    • David

      That could have more to do with the phone, not the carrier.

    • TylerCameron

      POS Samsung…

  • tmouser91

    T-Mobile may not like the rootmetrics report but really what can they say? They used rootmetrics on their own website so potential customer’s could compare them to other carriers. Who knows what next years report will be like maybe T-Mobile will be higher on the list. At&t is now using carrier aggregation in a few cities but no phones support it yet just the unite hotspot. Verizon also is deploying LTE on aws now so this will be a interesting year for lte in the us.

  • Jay Holm

    When 700 A block gets deployed, they will need a lot of phones that support it, and aggressively advertise the newly expanded coverage. And it needs to be capable of both voice and data.

    • taron19119

      Not going to happen unless T Mobile does voice over LTE

      • Jay Holm

        Oops, double post. ..

        • taron19119

          It is and the answer to tmobile problems voice over LTE won’t happen until around the end of 2015

        • philyew

          What makes you say that?

        • taron19119

          LTE is just being adopted around the world and it’s going to take some time before manufacturers would add voice over LTE into phones and you have to give voice over LTE to not during the heck out of a battery

        • philyew

          I guess we’ll see soon enough. Both AT&T and Verizon have been talking about having VoLTE-capable devices in 2014.

          I think that, technically, TM will be able to provision cell sites to support 700MHz shortly after the FCC signs off on the license transfer, but they may well be targeting the latter part of the year for a launch because of the likely timetable for VoLTE-capable devices becoming available.

        • taron19119

          true but voice over LTE means nothing unless you have every manufacturer making phones capable of using voice over LTE and the biggest phone manufacture Apple will make a voice over LTE capable iPhone when they see fit and without Apple on board its pointless because you cannot dismantle old networks and re use them for VoLTE

        • philyew

          As far as service is concerned, as long as there is a network capability and a device to deliver it, then there will be customers who will start taking advantage.

          Apple will step up as soon as they see a market and after AT&T and Verizon deploy VoLTE here I doubt you will wait long to see it.

          TM doesn’t have to dismantle any old networks to take advantage of their 700MHz licenses and they won’t waste their $3.4 billion investment by not using it to the maximum effect in their prime markets.

      • Jay Holm

        Wouldn’t VoLTE be the natural upgrade path?

      • Jay Holm

        Wouldn’t VoLTE be the natural upgrade path?

        • taron19119

          It is and the answer to tmobile problems voice over LTE won’t happen until around the end of 2015

        • yeah right

          Tmoboles ipv6 integration for LTE is a shoe in for voice over LTE. I think they could one up the other carriers by offering it in select markets (700 MHz A) by the end of 2014. Buy more 700mhz A all over and continue cajoling the FCC to at least give it a 5+5 or 10+10 band at the 600mhz auction … Specifically the 680-700mhz range and pair it with its 700mhz holdings,

        • TylerCameron

          Why does anyone want VoLTE to happen? I’d rather not have a data network heavily congested by phone calls. It’s much better to have a dedicated voice network.

        • taron19119

          because it was so T Mobile’s problems and you can begin shutting down 3G 2g and edge network and used that spectrum for VoLTE and it won’t be heavily congested if they use carrier aggression

        • philyew

          You can only be fully competitive in the urban markets when you can offer data AND voice for the indoor locations where TM is currently beaten by the competition. To do that, TM will have to offer VoLTE on the 700MHz spectrum which they have acquired specifically for that purpose.

  • Michael

    If they are so critical of Root Metrics findings, why on T-Mobile’s coverage page they refer you to use root metrics to check your ?

    • michael

      that Root Metrics map shows areas that have signal coverage ranging from excelent to bad, in this article above they’re referring to how root metrics tested the speeds.

    • xmiro

      they are critical saying the data used is from last year not that rootmetrics sucks

      • Jo

        They also imply that the Root Metrics data isn’t “REAL.”

  • Danny

    LTE is great if you standing in the middle of the football field. My signal drop to 4G when I am entering anything that has a roof over it before dropping to Edge. Calfornia zip code 92708

    • michael

      That’s what the 700MHz A-Block spectrum is for, the lower frequency allows it to penetrate buildings better then the current 2100, 1700 high frequency spectrum. but the 700MHz spectrum won’t be in effect until the end of 2014

  • superg05

    im in Dallas tx even with lte signal “lots of bars now i don’t believe” my speeds have gotten slower as well as my friends on other devices sometimes data does not work i use rootmetrics cause they partnered with them and i wanted them to fix my area since the data goes straight to them it was win win

    • xmiro

      Dallas is going 20x20Mhz for LTE, I wonder if your issue may be it because of upgrades

      In my area during the network upgrades, our phones sometimes wouldn’t even dial out. Then it magically fixed itself one day

  • MARGYVER

    You can tell this test doesnt matter because Sprint is ahead of Tmobile…… everyone I know on sprint already switched or plan on switching to Magenta.

  • Jay J. Blanco

    Maybe its time to upgrade all major interstates w/small towns near them with 3G Tmo

    • TemplarofLTE

      That’s what I’m saying!

    • LordFarquaad

      But nobody lives in those places. That’s why T-Mobile was so successful when data became popular on smartphones after 2007….oh wait.

  • Turb0wned

    Maybe tmo should upgrade all the 2G crap already.

    • michael

      That’s what most of the 700MHz spectrum is for

      • Jay Holm

        Hopefully!

      • philyew

        I wish I could say that was true but the 700MHz licenses they acquired from Verizon cover just over half the population and most of the coverage overlaps with the areas that already have 3G/HSPA+/LTE. The main purpose of the acquisition was to optimize the signal in their urban markets and provide indoor coverage.

        The idea behind this is that, with over 70% of the population in those urban and suburban areas, TM have a much better chance of rapidly expanding their subscriber base by becoming thoroughly competitive in those areas. There are over 180 million potential customers within their existing 3G/HSPA+/LTE footprint, and that gives them a much bigger target than they have by trying to extend coverage into much less populated areas outside the cities, where there are less than half that number of potential customers.

    • KlausWillSeeYouNow

      Yes… But who’s going to pay? It’s not exactly free to do that, you know…

    • Austin

      They are. I saw a tweet that says they’re upgrading MUCH of their EDGE to LTE by 2014′s end.

  • DW Duck

    You want real results on a test that counts, use the FCC test. With TMO my average runs 38mbs down and 13.5mbs up. Best in Bend Oregon

    • fsured

      The FCC test is the one I’m interested in. No bias and the tests run on their own. It can run in the middle of the night, on a drive to work, shopping, etc. I like that concept better as it can test various locations and different hours by each person who participates. You can manually run the test but that won’t stop it from running on it’s own. It won’t depend on someone hitting that “run test” icon when they feel like to generate their results.

      • Jay J. Blanco

        Sensorly does the same thing. Been doing it way before the FCC app did.

  • sidekicker89

    OMG someone on Instagram just posted a T-Mobile LTE sighting in Cincinnati, Ohio!!!!! AHHHH!

    • sidekicker89

      Update: The guy who posted on Instagram said the sighting is in West Chester off Cincinnati Dayton Rd. Is anyone near there?! I’m in Dayton.

      • blacksapphire08

        Yes im near West Chester but havent seen a LTE signal here or anywhere else around Cincy. 4G (HSPA) signal has been improving over the last few months though. Still doesnt hold a candle to Dayton’s 42Mb HSPA.

      • JB45

        I work in West Chester and haven’t seen anything. Guess I know which area im heading for lunch then…I will fire up the good ol sensorly app and turn it on full blast. Will update later

        • sidekicker89

          Thank you so much! i’d love to see it marked on the map in Sensorly! let us know what speeds you see. What kind of phone are you using?

        • JB45

          LTE!!!!!

        • JB45

          I am using the Note II…my battery was to low to map it. But I have a screenshot with LTE. No speeds yet. It went away to fast

        • JB45

          a guy on another forum said he got 20 down and 5 up on highway 129

        • TemplarofLTE

          Please do! Sensorly is the easiest way to create a comprehensive map of each network type.

      • JB45

        I was told Butler County is the only county to have enough spectrum to be able to have LTE out of the Cincinnati counties. Warren and Hamilton cant until the 700 spectrum is what I have been told.

    • JB45

      I mapped from 747 down Rialto drive to Union Center and only had 1 LTE show up on Rialto Drive. I did a couple of speed test in my office when it showed up and it was only 2 down but 4 up.

    • JB45

      hey sidekicker…check here for more information http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php/1814956-LTE-in-Cincinnati/page3

  • watkins

    How the F is sprint ahead of T-Mobile?

    • blacksapphire08

      Im guessing this is based purely on overall coverage and had nothing to do with data speeds.

      • brian90

        Yes, it based on voice coverage.

  • xmiro

    They all focus on the metro and more populated areas. All you have to do is look at the maps.

    On AT&T it’s the lighter shades of orange where you probably have to be outdoors to get an LTE signal. If you zoom their maps you can see the dark orange and how blotchy the network really is.

    On Verizon it’s called “Extended 4G LTE”. Zoomed out you think LTE everywhere, but zoom in enough and you see all the lighter shades of red. In that zone you may not get LTE coverage indoors. Someone in my family lives in zone like that and they only have Verizon 3G data indoors because the LTE signal just comes and goes.

    Which explains why when parts of Fort Lauderdale used to be in an extended 4G LTE zone a year ago it was nearly impossible to get our WiFi hotspot to lock and stay on LTE, I had to go on the balcony or go outside to get a better signal.

  • Steve

    They shouldnt even respond to these.

  • brianb90

    I use root metrics, AND it is accurate. I use it with my Galaxy s3

    • KlausWillSeeYouNow

      They didn’t say it was inaccurate. They said it (the study) was outdated, which is a legitimate point.

      • brianb90

        I’m still in a dead zone on their map but they say I have “good” coverage (I have NO bars on ANY of my tmobile phones). The local Tmobile store laughs about the online maps. Tmobile doesn’t use legit coverage maps.

        • KlausWillSeeYouNow

          COMPLETELY disagree. Their maps are way more accurate than any other carrier’s. Have you seen Verizon’s? The whole USA is red, and they won’t tell you signal strength! Lol

          I’ve had all four carriers, and let me tell you that their maps offer a far better predictive assessment of the level of service quality than other carriers. No map has ever been 100 percent accurate, but T-Mobile’s are, by far, the most honest about service quality.

        • brian90

          All I know is they list an ENTIRE suburb of a major city as good coverage and it’s actually a DEAD ZONE. The local store even knows it is a “dead” town. THE ENTIRE TOWN! You can only dial 911 through ATT on Tmobile.

      • pancakes

        They also said the they use REAL data. That implies they are denying the results.

        • KlausWillSeeYouNow

          Yes… Real data, meaning “current” data. Real data is current data, not outdated data.

        • Mo

          You expect a report like this to cover the data that happened this morning? Even T-Mobile’s reports to share holders aren’t in real-time. It’s always snapshots. We’ll see if TMo’s reliability assertions play out in the next snapshot.

  • brianb10

    Most of the Root coverage testing looks at voice reception first. Tmobile may have much better Data speeds than sprint but it’s voice coverage is more spotty.

  • larry91403

    Who cares, the price is right!

    • Ordeith

      The price of AIO is also right, and you don’t have to put up with T-Mobile’s network either.

      • dontsh00tmesanta

        Ya gotz choice

    • peanuta

      For some, the price is not right when you get little to no service. Just depends where you are on their coverage map.

      • dontsh00tmesanta

        If you get no service you need a carrier that does

        • peanuta

          Exactly. No matter how low the price is, if the service is not there then the price is not right.

    • Spanky

      You get what you pay for.

  • lowe

    Wow, worse than Sprint? That sucks.

  • PaulC

    Speed is not the same as reliability. In fact, speed tests tend to EXCLUDE those that are having connection issues.

  • Bob Brown

    TMONews itself reported that T-Mobile was encouraging its subscribers to add the RootMetrics CoverageMap app to measure its coverage for free! Any/all usage would be free against their TMO data usage levels….This was from May 2013. I started using Rootmetrics CoverageMap app from then on, to see how TMO does in my area, against the other carriers…..see this link http://www.tmonews.com/2013/03/t-mobile-selects-rootmetrics-app-as-new-tool-for-comparing-signal-strength-against-the-competition/

  • LuvYaJohn

    It’s ironic that T-Mobile chose RootMetrics back in May 2013 for speed tests, going so far as not counting speed tests run with the root metrics app against your data cap.

  • RedGeminiPA

    Since I’ve switched to Sprint (since T-Mobile only has EDGE from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg through PA), I’ve traveled to and through several areas that are covered by Sprint LTE. Meanwhile, those areas are nothing but EDGE for T-Mobile. When they finally start covering areas that aren’t major metro cities, I’ll consider making the switch. Until then, Sprint offers better coverage.

    In my opinion, if you already have strong 3G/4G coverage in large cities, it wouldn’t hurt to try pushing upgrades in larger rural areas (big rural “cities”) that have been suffering with EDGE. This seems to be the route Sprint is going, which is nice for those of us who actually work/travel outside of major cities.

  • http://fivethirtyeight.com/ Toni Johnson

    The results corroborate what’s observed by T-Mobile subscribers.