T-Mobile acquires 700MHz spectrum in Chicago to be used for Extended Range LTE

tmobiletowermagenta

Good news, Chicagoans: some fresh Extended Range LTE is coming your way.

T-Mobile has struck a deal with Leap Licenseco, Inc., an AT&T subsidiary, to acquire 12MHz of 700 MHz A-block spectrum. The spectrum covers several towns in the Chicago metropolitan area, including Chicago; Elgin; Joliet; Waukegan; Evanston; Naperville; Aurora; Gary, Ind.; Rockford; De Kalb; Janesville, Wis.; Bloomington; Normal; Kankakee; Kenosha, Wis.; and more.

As with any other deal like this, T-Mo and Leap’s deal is subject to regulatory approvals and closing conditions. It’s expected to close in Q4 2016, after which T-Mobile can begin deploying the spectrum for its Chicago area customers to use.

This spectrum deal is big for T-Mo because it gives them 700MHz A-block airwaves in all 10 of the top 10 US markets. And it’s big for customers in the Chicago area because once the spectrum is deployed, it’ll give them Extended Range LTE coverage that reaches twice as far and works four times better in buildings. Unfortunately, those customers will have to wait until after the deal actually closes before they’ll actually get to take advantage of T-Mobile’s new spectrum, but as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait.

Source: T-Mobile

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  • Acdc1a

    You asked for it, you got it! Not sure why Leap/AT&T would divest low band spectrum though…

    • taxandspend

      It was part of the agreement when Leap was purchased.

      • Acdc1a

        ” AT&T will also divest some of its spectrum holdings in a dozen markets in Texas, Washington, Nevada, Louisiana and Kansas.”

        In no way were they required to divest 700MHz in Chicago…

        • taxandspend

          They were required to divest 700A spectrum in Chicago. That’s why Laser was set up. To sell the 700MHz spectrum.

        • taxandspend

          The Chicago license was part of a condition placed on AT&T for gaining regulatory approval of its acquisition of Leap Wireless in 2014. Due to AT&T’s already extensive low-band spectrum holdings in the Chicago area, regulators required AT&T to sell the license, with proceeds spread amongst Leap shareholders.

          http://www.rcrwireless.com/20160525/carriers/t-mobile-pockets-chicago-700-mhz-license-att-leap-subsidiary-tag2

        • Acdc1a

          You are correct…

    • VN

      Not yet, now they’re gonna cry about when it’s gonna be deployed.

      p sim jus t kidd ing

  • The Waz

    FINALLY !!!!!

  • pseudoswede

    ItsHappening.gif

    #EnableEmbeddedMediaPleaseAlex

  • draws

    Bout freaking time!!

  • Didn’t see this coming! T-Mo continues to delight and amaze!

  • The Waz

    when do we think it will actually be deployed and ready to use?

    • Jess

      The deal is expected to be finalized by Q4 of 2016. Soon after that I reckon.

      • Mike

        Don’t forget about the the WPWR TV interference issue.

        • Jess

          They’ve had a concurrent operations agreement with them, since September.

  • Jess

    Wow, they ain’t playing around nor wasting time, unlike another carrier I know..

    • Fabian Cortez

      Yellow short bus?

      • Jess

        Absolutely lol

      • Hector Arteaga

        Dang Fabian. Poor Sprint can’t catch a break from you lol.

  • vinnyjr

    T-Mobile is kicking ass. They have the strongest signal & fastest data speeds of all the Carriers. I’ve never been happier, Thank You T-Mobile, Thank You John Legere.

    • Thorhand

      They have the strongest signal of all carriers??? What????? I love T-Mobile but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here and start hallucinating.

      • VN

        You might be talking to a bot.

        • SirStephenH

          You “might” be a troll.

      • donnybee

        At my house Verizon is a black hole. AT&T is stronger, but no dice. T-Mobile is literally 4 bars and pushing me 40+mbps. This is without Band 12 being activated, too!

        So, before you make a blanket statement like he did, just realize that the other carriers shouldn’t get ahead of themselves either.

        • Thorhand

          Where did I make a blanket statement? I am a realist and I stand behind what I say. The fact that you and the OP happen to live down the street from a T-Mobile tower and get a strong signal does not afford you to make the argument that it’s the carrier with the strongest signal everywhere. At my condo (in a major metro area), T-Mobile had not deployed low band LTE and the signal is garbage. I use wifi calling so that’s ok. AT&T and Verizon have a much stronger signal. Same thing at 4 friends of mine in the area. You don’t see me making a claim that T-Mobile gives you the weakest signal. Like I said, I love T-Mobile and I have bragged about my speeds, unlimited data, international coverage to people on other networks, but signal strength has never been something I have found to be brag-worthy especially when we’re talking about national parks, rural areas, underground parking, or indoors in some buildings.

        • donnybee

          Interesting, because the OP didn’t mention anything about best signal everywhere. In fact, your claim of him being wrong based on the fact that you don’t get the best signal from T-Mobile is exactly why I said don’t make a blanket statement. How is he wrong for saying he gets the best signal and fastest speeds with T-Mo? How are you right for saying he’s wrong?

          I can say that any of my friends with Verizon have an experience with their service here that’s worse than what you get with T-Mobile at your place. So therefore, using your same argument, they don’t have the best signal everywhere either. You’re the only one who brought the argument to an “everywhere” level, and for that you will be wrong, no matter what carrier we’re talking about.

        • Thorhand

          Interesting indeed because while the OP did not add the word “everywhere” to his statement, he definitely implied it with the way he/she structured his/her words. Read it again: “T-Mobile is kicking ass. They have the strongest signal and the fastest data speeds of all the carriers”. Now that’s definitely meant on a large scale, a city, a region, or even a country, simply because if the OP said “T-Mobile is kicking ass in my bedroom. They have the strongest signal and the fastest data speeds of all the carriers”, he/she would be laughed at by everyone reading the comments.

          You’re right though… Neither me or nor anyone can or should make claims about any carrier having the “strongest” signal because experiences will vary. And yes Verizon does have its failings as well.

    • Fabian Cortez

      It’s good to see the real vinny and not some troll that mimics you and thinks you’re a bot!

  • Steven

    Great news! Keep it up T-Mo!! Now the Mobile, AL Market next? New Orleans deployment? Shreveport, LA deployment? Birmingham, AL? I have high hopes

  • No Service

    They have 700MHz Extended Range LTE in my area and I still get “No Service” or “E” daily. Never had that with AT&T. Wish the network lived up to the hype.

    • Mike

      Make sure your device has band 12 and if it does it must be VoLTE compatible on band 12 or its disabled

      • No Service

        It is an iPhone 6S Plus

        • Mike

          Make sure in carrier settings that LTE is turned on for Voice and data. If voice is missing, it won’t connect to band 12

        • Chef Curry w/ da BRICKS

          Shouldn’t a phone brought from T-Mobile work out the box? Why should we the customer have to make sure a setting only found in the 36 chambers a GS warrior has to go through to become a Shaolin? The next the excuse will be you need a 600 Mhz device. Remember they don’t build devices (especially Apple) before a network is built.

        • Mike

          Does you car, tv, or stereo have all the proper settings out of the box?

        • kgraham182

          Don’t feed the troll, but shouldn’t B12 be a default out of the box setting by know? Unless people are manually turning B12 off, the “is B12 on” questions should stop.

        • Mike

          The default is LTE for data only since VoLTE isn’t everywhere. VoLTE is required on band 12 since band 12 does not carry an EDGE or HSPA signal to make calls. So it has to be enabled to be compliant with the requirement of being able to call 911.

        • Andy

          Dude this is just not true. VoLTE does *not* need to be enabled to get a band 12 connection. My Nexus 5X and 6 both have VoLTE disabled due to my use of a dualSIM adapter and the phone connects fine even in markets which are *only* band 12 with no underlying 3G/EDGE layer.

          The reason for no connection in this case is probably the most obvious…I.e., weak signal. T-Mo’s coverage maps are extremely generous and can be super unreliable in my experience.

        • Craig

          VoLTE is setup that way by Tmobile request so the t-Mobile model branded phones comply. It may not be setup that way for Nexus or other unlocked phones.

        • Andy

          The original message was about an iPhone 6S. I have an iPhone 6S and as a test just disabled VoLTE. Band 12 still is active per “Field Test” screens and SpeedTest results imply band 12 as they’re in the 1-2 Mbps range due to the lowish signal (B2 gets way faster speeds, even with weak signal). I’m not in any way questioning your assertion that T-Mobile’s branded devices somehow might block 700MHz absent a VoLTE connection. But I can confirm that my iPhone readily connects to band 12 with or without active VoLTE.

        • Bradley Karas

          Truth! But iPhones are notorious for having weak antennas…had an iPhone 6s plus was dropping signal left and right then went to back to Samsung with S7 edge and no issues whatsoever since

        • Romdude

          No, in some cases B12 will be slower if you have it enabled even when there is a wider band available. Some turn it off when they need to for that purpose.

        • Mike

          Be realistic.

        • donnybee

          Does you phone not work at all? Of course it works out of the box.

        • No Service

          Thank you for your help, I appreciate it.

        • SirStephenH

          Then get an Android. iPhones are notorious for having weak antennas.

      • Walt

        The iphone 6s doesnt have volte on metro pcs. All calls default to “3G” it’s missing carrier update 24.1 to enable volte, wifi calling, VM and group text. The iphone 6 works perfect on metro but not the 6s or SE iphones

  • nearvanaman

    This is welcome news, assuming it delivers what we expect. I live by, and work in, Naperville and even though the phone indicates healthy LTE signal, the download is just kbs in some spots of Route 59. Actually the T-Mobile store at Fox Valley Mall on Route 59 also has very poor signal. I live a couple miles off 59 and get 50mbps download.

  • Cam Fas

    Lol won’t see it until 2017 here in Vegas they got band 12 spectrum announced around October now we are halfway through 2016 and no band 12 in sight.

    • SirStephenH

      Everything I’ve seen has said it should be deployed somewhere between Q2 and Q4 of 2016.

  • B_Eng

    A welcome addition that’s been long overdue! I get better reception in the subway than I do in my building smack in the middle of the loop. A great excuse to upgrade to a new phone too!

  • Elier Ruiz

    About time! Yes!

  • mlody_me

    Great news! About freaking time. I am still planning to dump t-mobile as it is medicore at best sevice wise plus at this point it will be probably a year before first site is band-12 enabled. If everything lives up to the hype, I will be back, but for now, I will be going to ATT.

    • dtam

      You’ll probably start seeing band 12 within 3 months or when the deal is official…whatever happens later

      *edit guess deal won’t be finalized until end of year so early next year then

    • dontsh00tmesanta

      Go cricket

    • Bradley Karas

      Where are you located?

      • mlody_me

        I roam Des Plaines, Niles, Morton Grove, Oak Brook, Lombard, Villa Park, Schaumburg, Lake in the Hills. There are a lot of dead zones (shows service, no internet or dial up speeds). Service in buildings is horrible and seldom works. When I visit my friends houses, I am pretty much guaranteed to not have a service in a basement :( If t-mobile was half the price of ATT or Verizon, I would tolerate this, but at this point, I would rather sacrifice 2-3 starbucks a month and just get a better service that I can use.

        • Bradley Karas

          Really? I’ve been all around the north burbs and my service is great…what phone do you have?

        • Mike

          Same here. I get speeds that hit 100mbps download and 30mbps upload across Lake and mc Henry counties.

        • mlody_me

          I have iPhone 6S, but i got plenty of friends with different iPhones and Android phones and they all have similar problems with T-mobile – no service or poor service in basements, tall buildings, or spotty connections, dial-up speeds etc. One day I get decent signal, next day, same area same time, poor signal or dropped call – go figure.
          We all got lured by aggressive pricing and decent phone deals, but now some of my friends are already with a different carrier as they could not stand T-mobile anymore. Some even ended up with Sprint and they swear that it works better than T-mobile. Not sure if i would go that far to say it, but if that holds any truths, that’s great for them.

          I have been with T-mobile for less than a year and in that time I experienced so many dropped calls or bad connection that I do not recall if I had that many in the last 10 years with Verizon or ATT and i have been roaming the same areas for the last decade or more.

          I happy that T-mobile works for some. I wanted to like it and jumped on it to save money, but it just not meet my expectations. I wouldn’t be going thru the hassle and I am not keen to pay more, but on the other hand, I hate paying for something that just does not work as expected.

    • SirStephenH

      The deal should be finalized by the end of the year so you’ll probably see sites starting to light up Q1 2017.

    • a d00d

      OK, that’s it, I’m done wasting time replying to trolls. This one is just too damn over-run. :(

  • Alex Zapata

    Finally!!!!!!

  • Raiterio Patterson

    Did John make a deal with Leap or did John buy Leap from AT&T? Just want to clear

    • taron19119

      John made a deal with leap to get the Spectrum from them

  • dontsh00tmesanta

    Data speed wise it’s useless very quickly but for rural areas where population is much less it’s a saver

    • Bradley Karas

      12 mhz will be anything but useless

      • dontsh00tmesanta

        10×10 in a city like that nah

        It’s make b4 faster though hehe

        • SirStephenH

          12MHz of B12 would be only 5×5.

        • dontsh00tmesanta

          wrong person to tell that to….

    • taron19119

      Your talking about 5 mhz of band 12 but this is 12 mhz of band 12 and it’s going be fast and useful

      • Guest

        Its 6 mhz upload and 6 mhz download.

        • taron19119

          No that’s not right

        • ericdabbs

          Yes Guest is right. tmobile can only deploy a 5×5 LTE carrier. That is a fact that cannot be disputed.

          The 700 MHz spectrum that was bought is a 6×6 block.

        • VN

          I think LTE can’t do 6mhz, it has to be 5mhz. So this will be a 5×5. And if they don’t deploy it along CA it will suck badly for data speeds. You might be better off with a voice and text only plan. Thank T-Mobile. Thank John Legere for not deploying more B2 and B4,

      • dontsh00tmesanta

        10×10 in a city like that nah

        It’s make b4 faster though

      • SirStephenH

        12MHz of B12 is only good for a 5×5 (5MHz up, 5MHz down)…

        • Vince Lagme

          Multi-sector tower?

  • Diver Dan

    Being someone from the Chicago area I am very
    excited about this announcement. People complaining about the amount of
    bandwidth or speed must not understand what is like to walk into a building and
    not get any service at all. I would rather have any kind of service then no service at all.

    • Vince Lagme

      Should be good for the nightly naked lady picture bandwidth-crunch.

  • VN

    Lower 700MHz Block A

    UL: 698 – 704
    DL: 728 – 734

    Bandwidth: 12MHz

    Pairing: 2 x 6 MHz

    LTE Band 12 on Lower 700MHz Block A:

    1.4MHz, 3MHz, 5MHz

    • Randy’s Buddy

      The unfortunate thing is what T-Mobile calls “Extended Range” is actually every-day vanilla LTE service which AT&T and Verizon call “Cellular Service” . Both use Cellular Frequency Bands.

      The problem, however is that T-Mobile’s Band 12 is about 1/5th the size of AT&T’s Band 5, or Verizon’s Band 13. (often antennas have 3 sectors; each sector uses a different frequency channel).

      So in my area, it’s basically impossible to use T-Mobile’s “Enhanced” service because it’s over-loaded airwaves. Buyer beware.

      Very often my phone would ring busy when T-Mobile launched “Enhanced LTE” service. I was better off getting a bump in internet speed at home and the office; instead of relying on T-Mobile to deliver calls. I had to use WiFi calling
      exclusively for the final 8 months; then cancelled the service when AT&T’s Cricket offered a $100 credit for T-Mobile customers who switch. I also got an extra $25 referral credit from Reddit.

      • a d00d

        “The problem, however is that T-Mobile’s Band 12 is about 1/5th the size of AT&T’s Band 5, or Verizon’s Band 13”

        Ah, no, try again, troll. Both B13 and B5 are 10 MHz wide (usable – guard band), only double T-Mobile’s B12 A-block. AT&T’s B17 is also 10 MHz, which B12 is a superset of (i.e., if AT&T bought T-Mobile, they could combine the lower ABC blocks to make 15 MHz Band 12(+17).

        As for overload, this is mostly the phones’ fault for camping on B12 instead of B2 or B4 like they should. B12 should be “last resort” or part of a triple-CA solution. OTOH, if the cells are spaced too far apart so that B2/4 isn’t usable over a large area, then this really would be T-Mobile’s fault.

  • Walt

    Extended range Lte should be installed on every cell tower in the area it’s already deployed. Im tired of seeing 1 or no bars of band 4. Would over lapping band 12 cause interference?

    • DDLAR

      I’m not an engineer, but I don’t think this is desireable. If every tower had 700 Mhz antennas there would probably be a lot of interference which might reduce coverage.

      • a d00d

        This is something I’ve wondered about as well since LTE (both FD and TD versions) appear to be entirely co-channel (everyone on the same frequencies). Since it’s not CDMA, you can’t rely on on a spreading code to reduce interference. The only way I’ve read is that they move the beam around (every radio is MIMO) to reduce it, which I think is one reason why, when I’m not actively using the phone, the paging signal varies quite a bit, especially at the edge. And there are plenty of places, including Chili’s I ate at tonight, where the LTE signal goes away but WCDMA works, much less GSM. At least some of this is obviously the size of the channel (20 MHz (soon to be 25 MHz thanks to B66) vs 5 MHz for 3G and 200 KHz (0.2 MHz) for GSM, but that can’t be all of it.

  • Tanguy Seiwert

    As of today 4/1/2017 Band 12 (700Mhz band) is live in CHICAGO! I just switched from Verizon, and in my area T-Mobile has download of 54Mbps, Verizon had 27Mbps. So far I cannot tell a difference in building penetration – both are excellent,… but T-Mobile is a much better deal, better company IMO.