T-Mobile 700MHz LTE spotted in Houston, Texas?

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 14.49.32

T-Mobile’s 700MHz LTE rollout looks to be well under way. While we heard reports that at least one site – in Long Island – was activated recently, it seems that the frequency is also showing signs of life in Houston, Texas. We were sent a screenshot of ServiceMode on a Galaxy Note 4 from a reader, which indicates that a band 12 5+5MHz site is live in the area.

As far as we know, only three devices currently available are capable of picking up band 12 LTE, despite the fact that a few more have the hardware to support it. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note Edge and Galaxy Avant are the only ones which can pick up the 700MHz LTE frequency at time of writing. Despite that, Sony’s Xperia Z3 and the ZTE ZMAX both have the relevant radio chips to make it possible.

T-Mobile is currently deploying a couple of major network improvements: Wideband LTE and 700MHz (low-band) LTE. For those who aren’t sure of the difference, wideband is the “fatter data pipes” which utilize T-Mobile’s mid/high frequency spectrum to offer much faster download speeds on a network that’s not easily congested. You’ll see us referring to 15+15 or 20+20 MHz networks often, when referring to wideband. Think of it – in completely lay terms – as 20 lanes or 15 lanes on each side of the network highway. Traffic can flow much quicker, and easier with more lanes to travel on.

700MHz, commonly referred to as low-band or band 12 spectrum is a lower frequency. As it stands, the 700MHz network isn’t wideband. Not yet at least.

Being lower frequency means that it’s more capable of penetrating building walls, ensuring that you get better coverage indoors. Before acquiring this lower spectrum, T-Mobile’s 1700/2100 and 1900 frequencies were renowned for often disappearing once you stepped in to your home or office. Or – at least – became much weaker. . This is precisely why T-Mobile acquired the A-block spectrum from Verizon early this year, and why it’s also pursuing other spectrum holders and agreeing deals across the U.S. Check out this map to keep up to date on developments as T-Mo seeks to buy more of the spectrum, and activates it.

Thanks for sending, George. And as always, thanks, Neal for fielding my questions.

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  • bkerstetter

    T-Mobile currently doesn’t own enough spectrum for 700MHz to be wideband – they’ve only been purchasing enough for 5x5MHz which should be more than adequate since their Band 4 LTE is already reasonably ubiquitous.

    • Cam Bunton

      Yep. I know. I’ve just seen a lot of questions on a lot of posts asking for an explanation about the differences. I think there are 3/4 markets where T-Mobile has enough 700MHz spectrum to roll out 10+10MHz, but the rest are all 5+5.

      • kev2684

        I doubt it’s 3/4. at&t already owns majority of b and c blocks (also 5mhz each) and 10+10 is not considered wideband as that’s vzw and at&t’s standard capacity on all (vzw) and most of their markets (at&t). tmo wideband or vzw xlte is either 2×15 or 2×20.

        • Jrunner

          Considering the point will be to be able to hopefully activate a rural network, I’d gladly take a 5×5 network on band 12 someday just to get the rural areas off of edge (and have better coverage). Here in Indianapolis, we’re stuck on 5×5 on LTE currently anyways. I guess the question is, which will take priority when they finally do roll it out in urban markets? Band 12 or AWS?

        • kev2684

          AWS should be priority. if they prioritize Band 12, customers will experience congestion worse than VZW does sans XLTE. Band 12 should just be the fallback where AWS or PCS LTE is not available.

        • Cam Bunton

          I meant three or four. Not three quarters. Of all the blocks T-Mobile’s been buying, only four (that I’ve seen) have been bought in chunks big enough for more than 5+5. In most locations, T-MO has 12MHz chunks. In 3 or 4, it has 24MHz.

        • James Shaggy

          If youre talking about the 700mhz band, T-Mobile doesnt own any chunks larger then 12mhz. They do have a pending transfer of Blocks B+C in the Dakota are buts thats all.

        • TMOGUY

          Cam, could you name a market where TMO bought 700mhz spectrum in a block larger then 5+5 (or, 6+6)?

      • Mike

        Cam, do you know if wideband is being tested in the Chicago area? Im in the far north suburbs and have been getting speeds of 70Mbps download and 17Mbps upload.

        • emcdonald75

          I believe the A-Block spectrum in Chicago is owned by AT&T or by Leap Wireless shareholders. I’m not sure.

        • Since Cricket is Leap’s and Leap, ATT’s, I guess that the A block in Chicago belongs to ATT.

        • emcdonald75

          I wanted to say that but you never know the agreements that are formed when one company buys another. The Devil is always in the details. Lol.

        • I know, that’s why, in spite of the evidence, I thought it better to say that that’s just my guess. ;-)

        • RiskyBidThis

          It’s owned by AT&T currently, but as part of their deal to buy Leap they have agreed to sell it with the proceeds going to Leap shareholders.

        • Mike

          There is no A block in the Chicago area, Even if there was, it couldnt be used due to the channel 50/51 interference.

        • fa

          Rockford has 15+15 Mhz, rest of Chicago has 10+10. All of Chicago will be getting 15+15 next year.

      • No, block A of band 12 is just 6MHz wide, no more, no less. AFAIK, TMUS owns no block B license whatsoever, nor blocks D nor E to pair with. Yet, TMUS should be able to deliver upwards of 10Mbps in this 6MHz wide channel, which beats 0Mbps inside buildings or in the country.

        • RiskyBidThis

          They’re moving to acquire some B and C block licenses in central North Dakota. Those are the only ones, or at least the only ones we know of currently.

        • Nick

          In cincy which has 5mhz of band 4 LTE I can get up to about 30mbps, usually averaging around 20. Hopefully those speeds will be the same on the 700mhz

        • Fabian Cortez

          5×5 MHz is good for 37 Mbps.

      • TMOGUY

        Cam, could you name a market where TMO bought 700mhz spectrum in a block larger then 5+5 (or, 6+6)? I’m not sure that is honestly the case..

        • Chrstttp9

          Try N. Dakota in 4 counties (ONLY) with the BEK purchase recently.

  • coolio93

    Does the iPhone 6 support this band?

  • Ttt

    I thought the nexus 6 had band 12 also…?

    • Yes.

      • Ttt

        Thank you. That’s alao another reason why I went with the phone.

    • Hoops

      It does but the question is….is it activated ?? Any info or insight

  • mingkee

    Hopefully band 12 LTE will be lit up sooner in NYC and I will switch to Z3. However, if it’s lit up by G4’s coming, I will wait for G4.
    Don’t ask me for Samsung as I am done with it.

  • Xavier Riggins

    I wonder how T-Mobile will calculate the signal on their devices now. With band 4 (AWS) LTE, the bars will reflect 5 for anything less than a -105dbm value. If you between -110db and -106dbm your device will show 4 bars. This is annoying. AT&T does not calculate signal strength like this. Its like T-Mobile wants you to think you have good service with 4-5 bars when you really don’t because a -110dbm signal is not that strong.

    • Melissa Cardenas

      I dont know how tmobile calcualtes signal strenght right now but from someone who had att and tmobile two things i noticed on tmobile phones the phone can show 2 solid bars 4G try making a call “call failed” data wont load..Att phone dispalys 1 little bar the smallest one calls go tru fine and doesnt drop with that 1 little bar and data works fine.

      • kev2684

        really? in my experience it’s the opposite. T-Mobile has no bars (not no service) and my calls go through and it’s crystal clear. now that i’m on AT&T i have 4 bars and my calls do not drop but i always get choppy quality on calls. data, however, is how as you described it. they suck.

        • Melissa Cardenas

          Yes in fact i was in the clinic yesterday my mom on her att g3 had 1 bar “4G” not lte and calls were going tru fine loud and clear data worked but horrible sloooow.I had 2 bars edge on tmobile i didnt have no service i had edge 2 bars but calls or data didnt work at all all my calls were dropped data didnt work and texts its was 50/50 some went tru others didnt ..

        • Chris

          What phone do you have? I’ve never had dropped calls from T-mo. Like the other user said, most of my friends that have AT&T drops calls more than I do. And it’s the opposite of what you’re experiencing. Also do you know if there’s any on going tower maintenance by calling T-mo from another phone? I noticed this when they were working on upgrading the towers around my area before. My data even though it was full; it wasn’t working. And it’s just because they were upgrading the towers and putting LTE on it. But that was a while back like months ago.

        • Melissa Cardenas

          Right now tmobile g3 had galaxy s5 and iphone 5 before all from tmobile same thing. Well i dont know if they are working in a tower here in los angeles but its always been like that here in LA when u have edge its bad pretty bad i tought edge would at least work to call but nada.. Different phones same thing all while on Edge if i have 4G its fine lately i have been noticing some buildings i get more hspa than before but the clinic from yesterday was edge only and like i said nothing worked..

        • Mario

          My experience in LA is the complete opposite I work in a concrete building in HP sometimes you get 1 bar or 2 bars of 4G Or no service at all but when I do get 1 bar of 4G or 2 bars the calls go through normally they stay connected and don’t drop surprisingly lol because like I said the signal inside always fluctuates from no service to 2 bars. I do know for sure that won’t happen as soon as 700A starts rolling …stupid channel 51

        • lagurl

          Im with melissa like she said if u have edge on tmobile it doesnt work . Im also in La east la/montebello area im sure u know were that is. When im inside a building and manage to get hspa like u calls dont drop and go tru fine but when u in a building and have edge nothing works..

    • It’s not TMUS who calculates the bars, but the phone, including unlocked, non-carrier phones bought from retailers other than TMUS’.

    • besweeet

      -110 isn’t strong, but could still provide fast speeds in many areas. Of course, there’s more to it than just raw signal strength.

      I wouldn’t mind seeing more bars on my iPhone, even if inflated like on all of T-Mobile’s non-iPhones.

    • Brian Perez

      I get 97 dbm 94dbm in my home and get speeds up 57mpbs and sometimes as low as 34mpbs

    • PaulRivers

      “This is annoying.”

      I don’t agree with you. Can you get decent data speeds? Can you hold a call?

      Verizon was far worse for me. Bars between 1-3 could mean anything from couldn’t hold to a call to perfect calls and fast data. TMobile has been far more consistent in that if I have more than 1 bar, I can always hold a call and get decent data speeds.

    • SNR

      Look at the Signal to Noise Ration (SNR in the screenshot). It’s 22.5 db. That means the signal is 178 times more powerful than noise. At this high ratio LTE provides the maximum performance. The signal strength doesn’t matter.

      • milanyc

        Exactly. Engineers will slowly turn up that transmit power until they achieve desired coverage, while carefully avoiding interference with neighboring cells. They’re also monitoring the dreaded third harmonic interference issue at the UE. SNR and RSRQ values are what will directly determine your user experience at that serving cell, not RSRP.

    • TMOGUY

      You’re confusing RSSI with RSRP. Google the two of them to learn the difference.
      Quick tutorial: RSRP will be about -20 different (rough rule of thump) from RSSI. I.E> the -105 above is really like -85… Which is actually still an okay signal.

  • Justin747

    Is that really Advanced Task Killer on a phone in 2014?

    • superg05

      some people don’t know better i try not to jude

  • Nick Sutton

    Anyone know a way to find current connected band on Nexus 6 / Stock Android?

    • Shreddie88

      Here all the bands the Nexus 6 works with.
      International
      Quad Band GSM; LTE: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17; UMTS: Band I (2100), Band II (1900), Band IV (1700/2100), Band V (850), Band VIII (900)

      • Nick Sutton

        I know which ones the phone is compatible with, just wondering how I know which one I’m connected to at this exact moment.

    • Logan S

      Try “LTE Discovery” app.

      • Nick Sutton

        Cool, I’ll be on the lookout in Grand Rapids.

    • Loco Mole
  • Douglas Quaid

    WTH! Other major metro areas only have 10×10, yet Texas cities has 20×20 and now 5×5 700.

    • emcdonald75

      Well they can only turn on the 700 A-Block spectrum in a few places until after the TV broadcasters vacate Channel 51. I want Vulcan, AB License Co., Continuum and Cavalier License to sell their 700 A-block spectrum to T-Mobile. Then I want, U.S. Cellular and C-Spire to form roaming agreements with T-Mobile on the A-Block, PCS and AWS spectrum. One Big Network!!!

      • enkay1

        Vulcan just sold today and there are rumblings that some Cavalier licenses might be next.

        • Hoops

          Where are these rumblings coming from?

        • RiskyBidThis

          Couple of people around the web have stated that they talked to a T-Mobile network engineer who indicated that they’re investing a lot in Toledo, OH or-more specifically in the other case-that they’re acquiring the 700A license there.

          No way to tell if the two posters are the same person or referring to the same engineer.

          It’s seems to be generally accepted that Cavalier will sell out (at least in part) to T-Mobile, but it’s still rumors for now.

    • Everything is bigger in Texas!

      • I LIKE THEM BIG TEXAS THANGS!!!! WOOHOO

      • jarrodpd

        except deer…

    • Robert Echavaria

      To show up Blue Death Star in their home markets. During the initial rollout of 4G, Dallas was one of the first markets.

      I wish I had a band 12 device to confirm this Houston sighting.

      • enkay1

        AT&T’s HQ is in downtown Dallas. Makes sense they’d do that. They are, of course, head-to-head in their own home town with Verizon as well.

  • Shreddie88

    The Motorola Nexus 6 has Band 12. Add it to the list of compatible devices. Here is my proof.

    http://www.t-mobile.com/cell-phones/google-nexus-6.html#Midnight-Blue

    International
    Quad Band GSM; LTE: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17; UMTS: Band I (2100), Band II (1900), Band IV (1700/2100), Band V (850), Band VIII (900)

  • JaswinderSinghJammu

    Is there a deadline for the TV channel to vacate the 700 MHz spectrum?

    • It’s all voluntary. TV stations are enticed by the FCC to move by moving them to a lower channel and or allowing a higher power transmitter; in both cases the station then reaches more potential viewers. At least this is the case with the channel 51 stations in Texas that I checked.

      • JaswinderSinghJammu

        Thanks for the info. I know San Jose/Bay area is one of those places where the transition hasn’t happened. That’s a bummer

      • jeremyvbk

        Yeah the e station in East texas will be hard pressed to change
        East texas is the type of.area with little change. Jjst.finally got beer and wine sales this past February.

  • JBLmobileG1

    So the Nexus 6 isn’t compatible or has the capability to use the 700mhz down the road? Also the current frequencies, IMO, aren’t that bad. While I sometimes notice a drop when in building’s here in Las Vegas Nevada, it’s usually in certain ones. However, I remember when in California, sometimes when you go into a building your service really takes a hit, to a point where it’s almost useless. Why is this? Is there less towers in the area or something or does this have to do with the building itself and what it’s made of? Even being inside some of the giant casino’s on the strip the service can be fine. I try to run a Sensorly test, ever new place I go, just to test it out. Usually, I can always make a call but it’s the Internet speed that can take a hit. It’s strange though because my brother literally lives right across, same apartments, from me and my data speed nearly doubles when I am at his place. Not that it isn’t fast for me at mine… but it’s as if he is plugged right into the tower haha.

    • JamesG

      Has to do with the building and how far you are from the tower

      • randomnerd_number38

        Yep, cell site spacing varies a lot from town to town. Also a lot of businesses in large buildings like casinos will install signal repeaters to ensure their patrons have service

  • dontsh00tmesanta

    Nexus 6 does have band 12 radios. Look at that signal strength I won’t if the phone is indoors or out. I’ll be switching to nexus 6bonce band 12 is here in my area

  • Sentrix

    Nexus 6 has Band 12 and it is activated. I guess Cam forgot about it!

  • Jay Holm

    Why does it say BW 5mhz? I thought it’s 6mhz of BW? By the middle of next year, T-Mobile is going to be a whole different carrier!

    • RiskyBidThis

      There is a 1Mhz guard band. Even if that wasn’t the case I don’t think that LTE allows channel widths of 6Mhz.

      • Jay Holm

        So is carrier agregation being added alongside the 700mhz upgrades?

        • Fabian Cortez

          Eventually they’ll be aggregating band 4 and 12, band 2 and band 12, and even three downlink bands.

        • enkay1

          T-Mobile’s urban networks (full band 4 setup) are carrier aggregation-ready. Unsure about band 2 areas. Technically no because these areas only have band 2 antennas but the ground equipment might be capable.

    • ericdabbs

      @Jay Holm @RiskyBidThis LTE can only be deployed in the following bandwidths 1.4, 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 MHz BWs. Thus 6 MHz is not a valid LTE BW size. Also just a minor correction @RiskyBidThis, a 5×5 MHz LTE carrier already contains the necessary guard band within the carrier. The actual LTE data throughput uses only 4.5 MHz of the 5 MHz. The 0.5 MHz missing serves as the guard band. Although it doesn’t hurt to give it another 1 MHz of guard band.

  • Justin

    What app do I need on my Note 4 to do similar testing as I live in Houston and want to see if it is true in my area.

    • TMOGUY

      It’s not an app.. From the dialer, *#0011#

      • Justin

        Thanks TMOGUY

  • blakedunc235

    Actually the nexus 6 has that band

    • Aaron C

      Yeah, I was wondering about that. Band 12 is the only reason I bought a Nexus 6 instead of holding on to my 5. I just passed Riverhead, NY heading to the ferry on my way north. I should have checked. Doesn’t the Moto X 2014 also get band 12?

  • TMOTECH

    700 MHZ will never be more than 5×5 but when it is implemented it will utilize carrier aggregation with 1900 and/or 2100 so it will be just as fast if not faster.

  • marco

    I live in Houston TX, and I bought the note 4 just for that band 12, coming from the note 3, but my gn4 says band 4bw:10mhz, any ideas on that?

    • Jay J. Blanco

      t-mobile is just testing it you might catching a glimpse of it. Until its officially launched Like this customer did.

    • enkay1

      They are still testing and optimizing it. The tower in this sighting is running at low power while it is being properly adjusted. If you are near a tower with the proper equipment installed, you might be able to force your way onto it using *#2263# but service isn’t widespread anywhere yet.

  • Joe Ma

    What’s Cam’s email? I have some insane 20+20 LTE speeds in Seattle wanna send him.

    • Fabian Cortez

      Define “insane.”

      • Joe ma

        100+mbps DL and 30+. UL

        • enkay1

          Nothing new. Seattle’s had that for months.

  • hanfeedback

    In Houston, check for B12 regularly but have never seen it. Tmobile coverage is really good here so Im assuming that perhaps B12 is not in all areas and only used when needed maybe.

  • Daniel Gomez

    T-Mobile definitely stepped up their game I’m on the mass turn pike and I take this to go see my gf and finally I don’t see no more annoying edge spots so far and it cut out like once but came back on T-Mobile will be number 3 soon screw sprint

  • Nick

    I am in Houston and I am only getting Band 4 LTE. Looks like I am not the lucky one :(

    • enkay1

      Try forcing it to band 12. Dial *#2263#, select the LTE setting, and select B12

      • Nick

        I followed your instruction and when I select B12 I get no signal. Thanks for the instructions. I will keep looking.

  • ericdabbs

    Doesn’t the Nexus 6 support B12 as well? Why is it only the 3 samsung devices that support B12 LTE?

    • Brett

      ( THIS IS FOR THE SAMSUNG GALAXY AVANT)
      In the phone app dial :*#197328640#
      Press the three dots at the top right corner, select Key Input enter “Q” (capital letter) press (ok)
      Press the three dots at the top right corner, select Key Input enter “0000” (four zeros) press (ok)
      At this point wait about 15 seconds and the menu will change from DEBUG to MAIN MENU
      Select [2] UE Setting & Info Menu
      Select [1] Setting
      Select [2]System
      Select [9] Next Page
      Select [7] LTE Band On/Off
      Select [5] LTE B12
      Select enable
      Back all the way out to (Main Menu) then while still in service mode Main Menu Restart your phone
      I saw a post that Said this would work so I did it and it worked( while in service mode I looked at the bands the Samsung Galaxy Avant supported and it said ( band 1) (band 2) (band 3) (band 4) (band 5) and (band 12). I looked all over the web for months to find this DONT WAST YOURTIME TRING TO CALL T -MOBILE OR SAMSUNG JUST FOR THEM TO SAY THE SAMSUNG GALAXY AVANT DOES NOT SUPPORT BAND 12 ( IT DOES THE PHONE IT SELF SAID IT SUPPORTED BAND 12 AND THAT IT WAS JUST DISABLED BUT IF YOU FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS ABOVE YOU CAN ENABLE BAND 12)

  • marty

    I have the Galaxy Avant, but band 12 is disabled, very disappointing, hopefully a software update will activate band 12 usage…

    • h

      look for Samsung galaxy avant service mode unlock

  • Walt Lonsdale

    Found this onCNEt by a user R-B123 This amazing Phone supports B12 (700mhz) VoLTE. Not too many phones support B12. Even the $600 Galaxy 5 has no B12 support. Is 700mhz important? YES!! With B12/700mhz, you get amazing coverage even indoors.

    Now out of the box B12 is locked down. In May 2015 T-mobile will automatically push an upgrade to enable B12. If you can’t wait, you can enable B12 manually now: , just follow these steps:

    From the dial pad, dial: *#197328640#

    Press menu -> Select Key Input enter “Q” (capital letter) -> Press OK

    Press Menu -> Select Key Input enter 0000 (four zeros) -> Press OK

    At this point wait about 15 seconds and the menu will change from DEBUG to MAIN MENU

    Select [2] UE Setting & Info Menu

    Select [1] Setting

    Select [2] System

    Select [9] Next Page

    Select [7] LTE Band On/Off

    Select [5] LTE B12

    Now back all the way out (Menu -> Back) then reboot. If you don’t do it that way, the setting might not stick. You can always check by repeating the above steps and verifying.