T-Mobile closes 700MHz A-block deal, announces plans for expansion

T-Mobile-4G-LTE

In a blog post today, T-Mobile’s Chief Technology Office, Neville Ray announced that the company has now closed the deal to acquire Verizon’s unused A-block, 700MHz spectrum. This news comes just a few days after the FCC gave the purchase the go ahead, and signals the beginning of a major plan to improve and expand T-Mobile’s existing LTE coverage.

A-block spectrum at these low frequencies will allow Magenta to deliver a network that’s not only fast, but much more reliable than the current, higher frequencies. This spectrum in particular will allow T-Mo to improve coverage for just under 160 million U.S. consumers. In fact, T-Mobile plans to use it in 9 of the top 10, and 21 of the top 30 metro areas in the States. Cities include Dallas, New York, LA, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami, Washington D.C. and Detroit.

We’d heard previously that T-Mobile was planning to roll out this 700MHz network towards the beginning of 2015. But, that was based on the presumption that the deal would be closed in June/July. With the acquisition being a couple of months ahead of schedule, this stronger network could go live much sooner. Something Ray hints at in his post:

Deploying 4G LTE in 700 MHz will be fantastic news for T-Mobile customers. And we already have plans in motion to roll out service quickly. We anticipate customers will begin reaping the benefits as early as the end of this year. Which is wicked fast. But that’s the Un-carrier for you.

On its own, this news is fantastic. But coupled with the rest of T-Mobile’s network news over the past few months, it’s even better. Just the other day we heard confirmation that Magenta would be using 4×2 MiMo technology to ensure that data connections are not only fast, but consistent, even at fringe areas. Also, since the final quarter of last year, T-Mo’s 20+20 and 15+15 MHz networks have been going live in a number of cities, boosting speeds up to a potential 147Mbps.

I remember at the beginning of the year stating that 2014 must be about coverage for T-Mobile. Building a faster, stronger and wider reaching network. And with the plans to upgrade old 2G/EDGE networks to LTE, the addition of the A-block spectrum, 4×2 MiMo, 15+15 and 20+20 LTE networks, I’d say T-Mo is more than delivering on that front.

Source: T-Mobile

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  • Ordeith

    They are delivering plans. I will believe it when I see results.

    • SEBA

      Oh boy, you’ll be surprised…

  • dontsh00tmesanta

    Let’s do this

  • silverhawknike

    awesome! Cant wait for better coverage! GO Tmobile!

  • steveb944

    Are there any devices that even support this band? I had read sparingly the One M8 had it, but I haven’t heard much else.

    • Cam Bunton

      No, not yet. The 700MHz T-Mobile’s going to use – I believe – is band 12. Other devices might support a 700MHz band, but it’s not the right variant for T-Mobile. G Flex and HTC One are not band 12. I could be wrong, but, that’s what I know.

      • qpinto

        nothing is band 12 from what i have been looking at for the past couple months. i just hope the next lg g3 has band 12. if not it will be 2015 until i replace my lg g2, which i dont mind at all

      • Nurdface Gamerhandz

        It won’t even be an issue until 2015, look for the Note 4 and the iPhone 6 to be the first devices to support it at the soonest.

        • Jay Holm

          I think T-Mobile will push LG to include it in their G3, they know how to make devices ready and compatible. They came out with a special LTE equipped Galaxy S3, remember?

        • MastarPete

          While yes the Galaxy S3 was refreshed for LTE, the refresh was so delayed that it was practically irrelevant, since the S4 was already out, and not really worth mentioning.

          Sure would be nice but realistically I think it could be too short notice for the LG G3 especially if LG has already started production on T-mobile’s version. As far as T-mobile is concerned there would be too many support related issues, not to mention inventory logistics in carrying two different versions of the same phone (inventory is a big part of why you only see a 16gb storage option for most phones on any carrier). So I don’t see T-mobile refreshing any of their existing phones post-launch.

          At least there isn’t much longer to wait for the LG G3. Keep an eye out for the FCC filing in the coming weeks and cross your fingers for band 12. If not I wouldn’t hold my breath for a refresh.

        • besweeet

          And they also seemingly have a good relationship with LG, at least given by the number of LG phones that have come through T-Mobile.

      • JosephLagalla

        Any thoughts on if they could be software upgraded to such? I find it curious that HTC would only list the band as 700MHz instead of specifying the bands.

    • Alex Zapata

      The only device in the US that I know of that supports band 12 is the US Cellular variant of the Moto X. Unfortunately that means that no devices as of now will work with these new frequencies. I expect we’ll start seeing compatible devices around the holidays.

    • Fabian Cortez

      AT&T has agreed to switch to/use band 12 through an agreement with the FCC.

      The only frequency left that AT&T is [purposely] excluding from their devices is band 4 (AWS) for UMTS/HSPA.

      • TylerCameron

        Why are AT&T devices always just triband UMTS? Why don’t the companies make them all pentaband like T-Mobile devices?

        • Fabian Cortez

          It’s because AT&T specifically asks the device OEMs not to include it (AWS).

          A perfect example of this is the Galaxy S5. The AT&T version specifically lacks AWS for UMTS/HSPA/3G/”4G” but the LTE bands appear (there appears to be a discrepancy with the 900 MHz band for LTE – not used in the US) the same. Since the hardware probably supports it since AWS is already included for LTE, I’m sure some entrepreneuring hacker will apply some baseband flashes.

          This won’t be much of a deal in the future as T-Mobile has already been aligning themselves with AT&T. Eventually, UMTS 1900 will be the default UMTS/HSPA/3G/”4G” band and UMTS 1700 will stick around for legacy support.

  • miguel sanchez

    Yes! This are fantastic news! Can’t wait for the change to happen in Dallas ,Tx especially In Forney, Tx (75126)

  • Matt

    This news is a mixed blessing for folks like me with an iPhone 5S. No support for the 700mhz spectrum.

    • dtam

      that’s every current phone though, no just iPhone

      • superg05

        hey don’t bust there ibubble universe

  • grod46

    wow, first i get a text from T-MO saying “We’re upgrading your area to super fast 4G LTE” then this, Tmo is realy stepping up their game! BTW if anyone wanted the full text, it says ” Free T-Mobile Msg: We’re upgrading your area to super fast 4G LTE. You may experience some service disruptions over next 3 wks. Info: http://t-mo.co/1k8SgZq

    • dp4609

      I got the same message yesterday (60177) but there’s LTE here already and the included link doesn’t really detail what they’re doing. Not like I’m complaining on any improvement(s) they plan because the current signal, with or without data, could use some improvement on. Just curious as to what exactly their goal is so assumption on potential benefit(s) can ease the curiosity.

  • Laststop311

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/files/2014/01/Screen-Shot-2014-01-06-at-11.42.56.jpg

    there is the map that shows just where t-mobile got the spectrum. You would think this site would do a better job and post the map i mean cmon. You can hire me as your editor you obviously need help.

    Love seeing cleveland ohio covered. Can’t wait for the increased coverage and it finally gives me a legit reason to upgrade from my galaxy note 2.

    • philyew
      • Laststop311

        not everyone reads through old posts.

        • philyew

          No, they don’t. That’s what the search facility is for. It’s there at the top of the page. I typed in “700 MHz” and because the search returns the lead graphic, I could see easily that there already was an article with a map.

  • Laststop311

    well i tried to post a link to the coverage map for the purchased 700mhz but i guess my comment was deleted. Wow this place is lame, it was a washingtonpost website not a hack site jesus….

    • Cam Bunton

      Nope.. it’s right there, below.

  • Mark

    Alas, still nothing in Maine. I actually think that spectrum here is owned by US Cellular.

  • Rob

    Wow that’s surprising! Most of Colorado is covered! Here I was thinking we wouldn’t be seeing any faster speeds any time soon!

  • Ky

    It’s sad that the San Diego market was not a part of this deal.