T-Mobile LTE pops up in Geneva and Ashtabula, Ohio

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Every once in a while we get sent news of new networks being tested and activated in various locations across the U.S. Often times, I dig through them and round them all up in a single post. But, since I’m on vacation (sort of), I’ll just post this week’s as and when I’m able too.

A T-Mo customer and TmoNews reader has been testing the network in and around Geneva and Ashtabula, Ohio and it would seem T-Mobile is busy activating the LTE network in those towns. Head on over to the Sensorly coverage map and you’ll see some purple blobs denoting LTE coverage around Geneva, and up the main highway between the two locations. Speeds around Ashtabula are very encouraging too. Our reader managed a download speed of around 42Mbps (as seen in the screenshot below):

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Previously, Ashtabula was 2G only. And so, if you’re living in that area and have been suffering with EDGE speeds for a while, you’ll be pleased to know that some tasty, fast LTE is currently being activated there.

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  • maximus1901

    If anyone’s in those areas, please let us know which band lte is it: 4 (AWS) or 2 (pcs).
    If it’s ONLY b2 then that means that tmobile is doing the lte upgrades on the cheap: no new remote radio heads, just re using the same antennas from 10+ years ago.

    • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (ニール・ゴンパ)

      You can use RRHs with older panels. RRHs can be used with any antenna panels, since they replace the TMAs used with 2G systems.

      Nothing about this would be “on the cheap”. Antenna panel replacement is labor-intensive, so for a quick upgrade, it can be broken into stages. But if the panels are old enough, even those will be replaced.

      • maximus1901

        That’s good to hear but do you know they are mounting rrh next to panels? Or are they doing ground mount?
        When 700a is deployed, then will they deploy new panels for all 3 bands?

        • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (ニール・ゴンパ)

          It depends on the site architecture on how RRHs are mounted. T-Mobile prefers to mount them next to the panels, since shorter cables equal lower latency (in term of ns, not ms).

          When 700MHz is rolled out, all-new panels will be used to support the three bands, since it’s got to be done anyway, and it simplifies maintenance of the site gear.

        • Gerad Munsch

          This is impressive!

          Though I haven’t been a T-Mobile customer since February of this year (T-Mobile customer for 8 years prior — long story short: new career required better coverage), I’ll be a fan for life.

          I live in Erie, PA — not too far off. I’ll actually be in Conneaut – Ashtabula – Geneva, OH on Wednesday for work. If I have the time, I’ll go grab a free tablet SIM for my Nexus 7 (my 2 year old daughter decided to stick mine down the vent in my car), so I can map on Sensorly and CellMapper. I may be able to stick it in my Nexus 5 to determine band class.

          Im going to guess it’s band 4, due to this market being smack dab in their 700a license for Cleveland, they’re probably getting ready for band 12 deployment. I’ve already found at least one, possibly 2 live band 12 sites outside of Cleveland (near Beachwood) with my RTL-SDR and a mag-mount antenna on the roof of my Civic, using a piece of open source software called “LTE-Tracker”. Downlink was at 731.5 MHz. Whether I get the SIM or not, I’ll check for band 12 sites.

        • Delusion_FTL

          731.5 is dead center on the 700 A block downlink. That’s exciting. What do you think is unique about this area that they would be deploying there to start? Maybe the lake and international boundary? Maybe to overbuild the roaming between the 86 and 80? If I remember correctly, that’s ATT roaming in that area.

        • Chad Vincent

          There’s lots of high-end business in Beachwood. Two malls, University of Phoenix and Tri-C campuses, etc. It’s also on the eastern edge of town, so those towers may have more rural area coverage than ones closer to downtown.

        • Gerad Munsch

          The site(s) I detected may very well have been closer to the city. I was on my way from Erie, PA to Mansfield, OH. The first site (no screenshot of that one), I noticed on I-90 right before the I-271 split. The one I have a screenshot of (LTE physical cell identity 95) was noticed on I-271. The RTL-SDR detects rural AT&T band 17 sites miles after my phone loses them.

          Cleveland is a big city, and has no Ch51 issues. T-Mobile already has a spectacular AWS/PCS network there — it’s a great city to start in.

          When you say 80 and 86, are you referring to I-80 through PA and I-86 through New York? Because those are definitely AT&T-land. Though most of Erie County, PA used to be roaming (originating from the Dobson/CellOne days), somewhere around 2011-2012, T-Mobile overbuilt it with GSM and AWS 3G (T1 backhaul only), and dropped roaming on that LAC. I distinctly remember in-market roaming before that overbuild, in Girard, etc where T-Mobile had mediocre coverage.

        • Delusion_FTL

          Have you been able to narrow to an physical site yet? Given the lengthy distance 700 can travel, I imagine it may be a little hard. If you give me a general area you think it could fall in I can probably track down the GPS of T-mobile’s existing sites so there may be less hunting.

        • redman12

          Just curious, what’s your job position. I’m interested.

        • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (ニール・ゴンパ)

          If you’re wondering if I work for any telecom companies, the answer is no.

        • xmiro

          Think they’ll switch to the AIR32 Ericsson launched this year? Those have some impressive claims – 25% increase in indoor coverage, 70% better throughput

        • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (ニール・ゴンパ)

          I have a hard time believing Ericsson’s claims, but I wouldn’t be surprised if T-Mobile is at least considering using the AIR32. But there are better active antenna systems out there made by other vendors of telecom gear…

        • Jay Holm

          It would be nice, for those of us who aren’t as savvy, if someone can elaborate on what “RRH” stands for, and means.

        • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (ニール・ゴンパ)

          RRH == Remote Radio Head
          TMA == Tower Mounted Amplifier (used for older 2G-only systems).

          It’s part of the architecture to separate digital signal processing from the base station and move it closer to the antenna panels to lower latency and increase usable signal power. More generally, Neville Ray calls this “tower top electronics”, since the equipment to actually produce and manage the signal is close to the panel, rather than in the base station cabinet.

          When the signal processing components are close to the cabinet, there is a greater degree of signal loss as the processed signal moves up the line to the antenna. This naturally means that the transmit power has to be lower because the signal would distort even more at higher transmit power. This is why older systems had TMAs, which boosted the signal and tried to ensure distortions didn’t affect the signal too much. RRHs, being closer to the antenna head and having all the signal processing components in it, will produce a clearer and more powerful signal, making it possible to safely transmit at higher power levels.

          The Ericsson AIR (which is only available for GSM/UMTS/LTE systems) is an active antenna unit/integrated antenna unit (AAU/IAU). This is the logical extreme where the panels are no longer passive, but contain the components that make up the RRH as well. Provided that the gear is capable of it, it can support the best possible signal.

          Unfortunately, Ericsson AIR systems are not very feature rich compared to NSN or Samsung’s RRH systems. Things like 4×4 MIMO and higher transmit powers (>60W) are not possible on the AIR. Also of note, Ericsson AIR is not modular, so if a portion of the system fails, the whole thing has to be replaced, which makes for a much more expensive system.

      • maximus1901

        Bump. Look up a few comments and ask the guy any questions or tests you might have about the new panels.

    • Mike Palomba

      If someone’s getting 48mbs down then who cares what way they’re upgrading the LTE? As long as it’s fast then it really doesn’t matter

      • maximus1901

        It absolutely does. Using RRU means increased ranged due to lower losses once the signal hits the antenna.

    • Gerad Munsch

      Confirmed! I’m currently in Geneva, OH for work.

      The site here is broadcasting on Band 2 -only-!

      LTE sector number is 13 (as opposed to 3 for AWS).

      EARFCN is 1100.

      Once I’m done with this job, I will do some further mapping, and later today when I return home, I will post a large amount of site pictures and screenshots I’ve taken. There is one antenna per sector.

      Any questions while I’m still in the area?

      • maximus1901

        Yes.
        1) if it’s not a burden, can you go right next to site and take pics of panels?
        It’s helpful to know if the remote radio units are right up next to the panels or are on the ground.
        Some people I know can identify if the panels are brand new or re used. This will help us understand just how thorough TMO is being.

        • Gerad Munsch

          I did already take some nice closeup pics. They appear to be reused with RRH on-tower.

          Here’s one pic to hold you over: http://goo.gl/BfyazB

      • maximus1901

        Also, screenshot of your engineering mode, signal check app and any other engineering type screens would be awesome.
        My twitter is @maximus1901

  • Ryan Carnes Ofs

    I think the Sensorly app is mostly full of shit.

  • dontsh00tmesanta

    Waiting on Kerman San Joaquin and tranquility ca

  • Brian

    I posted news of this on the last thread with updated coverage for new LTE markets. Not only is Ashtabula lit up with LTE, Madison Ohio is now on LTE also. I did some mapping via sensorly over this past weekend. I also mapped Geneva this past weekend too. Didn’t know I needed t send a screenshot. Glad this was pasted though!

    • Cam Bunton

      Screenshots are very helpful. Especially with the mapping shown on them.

  • Naruto44

    I just waiting for see band 12.

  • John Brown

    FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Rural Ohio is getting LTE! Now, for the love of God fix the rural EDGE hole in Eastern parts of the Cincinnati market. Even HSPA+ 42 would be sufficient. Just get us off EDGE! It’s 2014, not 2002

    • Chris Hilbert

      My sister is in Hillsboro and wants coverage so bad.

  • Craig

    Question: For the areas getting upgraded from 2G to LTE, do they get H+ as well, or ONLY LTE? Just curious because LTE is normally turned off on my phone (H+ is sufficient for my needs and I get a stronger signal with H+ than LTE at my home).

    • Cam Bunton

      Difficult to say. The guy who sent me these suggested there was no HSPA+ in these areas. Can’t confirm that though. There are more educated people out there than me on the subject of network infrastructure.

      • maximus1901

        Can’t confirm? Just turn lte off lol

    • Chad Vincent

      The gist so far:

      HSPA+ and LTE where T-Mobile has licenses for 1900MHz and AWS both.
      LTE on 1900 MHz and no HSPA+ where there is no/insufficient AWS holdings.

      No guarantees, but it sounds like this is the rule of thumb.

    • John Brown

      Also, will we get 3G? I know a few people still waiting on 3G for their non-4G devices AKA Walmart Mobile

      • Chad Vincent

        HSPA+ is backwards compatible to UMTS. If the tower gets H+ (which not all will) then yes, there will be 3G. But LTE has priority.

  • John Brown

    I have a question about the T-Mobile network upgrades. Are these areas also getting 3G? My roommate has an Alcatel OneTouch Evolve through the Walmart Family Mobile MVNO and it only has a 3G chip. We’re still on EDGE here in Owensville Ohio. When/if we get LTE out here (we’re short on spectrum being 26 miles from Cincinnati) will we also get 3G? There are still 3G only smartphones on the network.

    • Eric

      Some of the towers will receive 3G/4G HSPA+ if the spectrum there is adequate. Otherwise, you’ll receive PCS or AWS LTE.

      • maximus1901

        I don’t believe that. 3G reaches way farther than lte even on same frequencies.

        • Tacos

          No they need to own the spectrum to use it.

          That has been tmobiles main problem is that Att/Verizon got tons of spectrum long ago for dirt cheap and now spectrum is gold and its a pain to purchase.

    • Jay J. Blanco

      It will definitely depend how much spectrum is available in the area. Hspa is technically 3G. So even if a area has HSPA family mobile devices get 3G speeds for some reason.

    • Stefan Naumowicz

      Yes. Hspa is backward compatible with umts (3g), so 3g phones can connect to h+. LTE, while not technically backward compatible with 3g technologies, it is in tmobiles case because of the technology they use; basically an LTE radio tower is also transmitting older signal types along with LTE.

  • Hoosier99

    Tmobile sent a text notification that 46714 in Indiana will get refarmed by Sept 30. It was supposed to have been done August 16. We will see if they can make their own new deadline.

  • Substance

    I noticed on my drive HOME today that Highway 68 from Monterey to Salinas was showing 4G most of the way. Just on Saturday that entire strip was strictly 2G. Changes are a coming, YES!

    • maximus1901

      Lte or Hspa?

      • substance

        Unfortunately HSPA… But still, its far better than Edge:). I did notice this morning, that there were two small gaps in the area where I dropped back to 2G. Hopefully that gets converted too.

        • John Brown

          So they’re actually doing upgrades to HSPA as well? Good! My 3G only phone in a suburban Cincinnati EDGE hole might actually see a useable signal once they get here

  • 4g Frustrated

    So someone please tell me why nowhere, oh is being upgraded but areas outside major cities are not. As an example, areas of I-270 near DC have no 4g coverage. When it does show up, it’s spotty. 100,000+ cars a day vs. 7000 populus city (Geneva, oh) makes no sense. This is one of many examples (and reasons why I can’t recommend TMO to anyone).

    • vrm

      its d.c. – nothing works there, get used to it. only money changing hands so please keep sending your money.

    • John Brown

      I’m 26 miles from Cincinnati and just 5 miles outside the current 4G footprint. I’m praying to God they upgrade this part of Ohio soon! And this isn’t exactly nowhere. The extreme farmland of Ohio doesn’t start for another 10 miles

      • CHRIS

        If they upgraded Ashland I can’t see them not upgrading near Cincinnati. Ashland is practically farm land. There’s nothing here but farm land.

  • junque

    4G all around but none in NEW Holland, PA (Lancaster county) yet, still 2G.

  • Jeremy

    Can you post the state in the headlines. Thanks

  • CHRIS

    4G LTE active now in Ashland Ohio as of last night. Thought it was a mistake when I noticed it I figured maybe my phone was displaying wrong signal because I went into my house and it reverted back to edge. When I was leaving for work this morning I got in the car and it displays 4G LTE.

    • John Brown

      I assume they’re upgrading along 71 towards Columbus. I sure hope so. God I can’t wait to have at least 3G here 26 miles east of Cincinnati (just a single tower outside the current HSPA+ footprint)

      • CHRIS

        Trust me bro I certainly know how that feels. Hopefully it gets better for you and by the looks of it it probably will.

  • Nik

    On Auburn near 44 in Concord/Painesville it was 4G LTE on Monday… rest of the week it has been edge again… TURN IT BACK ON lol