T-Mobile Asks FCC To Make All 700MHz LTE Networks Interoperable

T-Mobile has requested that the Federal Communications Commission consider the idea of mandating the interoperability of all LTE networks in the 700MHz band. T-Mobile argues that such a move would encourage LTE roaming and help boost public-safety, which also plans to use the 700MHz band for a nationwide broadband network.

Current LTE devices offered by both Verizon and AT&T cannot work on both networks because they use different bands. The interoperability problem comes down to the different band classes inside the 700MHz spectrum band as AT&T and Verizon are using two separate band classes.

In its FCC filing, T-Mobile argues that the FCC should adopt rules to make all band classes in the 700MHz range interoperable. T-Mobile’s position aligns them with T-Mobile with C Spire and MetroPCS, both of whom have argued that broad interoperability should be part of AT&T’s purchase of Qualcomm spectrum.

T-Mobile wants 700MHz interoperability to help make roaming easer for carriers like T-Mobile, which plans to deploy their own LTE network inside their AWS spectrum holdings. Striking roaming deals with carriers like AT&T and Verizon would be easier and more convenient for the consumer if they could roam onto multiple networks using the 700MHz spectrum.

“As the commission has recognized, roaming allows carriers to be more competitive and provides important benefits to consumers,” T-Mobile wrote in it’s filing. “Moreover, because of the concentration in the wireless marketplace, roaming is an increasingly important tool for carriers to be able to compete. Therefore, current carriers’ ability to provide roaming on 700 MHz systems will promote competition in the wireless marketplace, to the ultimate benefit of wireless consumers.”

AT&T and Verizon have argued against an FCC mandated interoperability rule for the 700MHz band, saying the government has no authority to create such a mandate. They also claim there are technical reasons against such a requirement and that a 700MHz mandate would create extreme development costs that could slow their respective rollouts of LTE.


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  • Kyoshiro82

    Slow them or just want you to come to their network?

  • Hurlamania

    Government has no authority to mandate that? Isn’t that the point of the FCC? I guess TV stations and radio stations should use whatever specs they want so you need 5 of each to view and hear stations in other areas.
    Att and v are a joke.

    It’s called a standard. Lowers prices for manufacturers.
    Perhaps they want to change the gsm and cdma standards also.

  • Hurlamania

    Wouldn’t that help with the nation wide broadband initiative Obama spoke of and att used in there take over argument, now they’re against it?

  • OompaLoompa

    This will NEVER happen, although it SHOULD.

    Why will this never happen? Simple, if this happens then the carrier loses their hold on you. When you own an expensive smartphone that only operates on one network, you have less incentive of canceling your contract and/or switching carriers freely. Your expensive smartphone will be useless on another carrier.

    Carriers do not want customers owning one device that can easily operate on all carriers, they want you locked down. If that shiny new smartphone will work on all carriers, they have less power over holding you hostage.

    I pray the mandate goes through. The day the big carriers lose their insane control over contracted customers will be the happiest day in technology ever.

    • Consumers can make this happen if we VOICE it loud and clear. And luckily for us, T-Mobile has just begun. Now we need Sprint to step up.

  • Deadeye37

    Dear FCC,

    Amen to what T-mobile said.



    PS You should listen to T-mobile.  They’re smart.

  • mrmiddl

    This fits into tmo wanting to change their current band over to be interoperable with atts so that they don’t have to purchase the iPhone from apple. If they can do the same for lte, they wouldn’t have to spend as much money building out their network and once again, iPhone compatibility.

  • TMoFan

    at&t and vzw are so greedy it’s beyond belief. LTE roaming has a far better chance at providing nationwide broadband coverage than that stupid “merger” that they tried to shove down our throats, telling us that it would be good for the country.

  • Angeldevil75

    wharever is against verizon and att i will support it… where is the petition to sing…..com.com

  • Manusferrera

    this is a great idea all phones should work on the same frequency so this way carriers can compete on customer service and phone selection rather than buy customers by having all the spectrum to yourself. this will help small carriers compete because they certainly dont have the money to build an lte network.

  • The FCC and the U.S government MUST mandate all 700 MHZ to be interoperable! AT&T and Verizon have the most coverage and are the largest carriers in the country, and having devices that can roam on either network is VERY important for public safety. Especially in moments of catastrophes where networks usually become congested and unstable.

    Having devices that can roam on any network will allow first responders more access to networks and in doing so networks that have space on the wireless spectrum to make a call when the network is congested.

    Also it benefits the public because people will be able to use their handset on any carrier if it is unlocked and we aren’t locked down to just one carrier, which is why AT&T and Verizon do not want this to happen. But public safety goes first than greediness.

  • Frigadroid

    The current group of ass clowns in the congress and senate couldn’t even come to a consensus over chicken or fish for lunch. Why would this be any different? I hope I’m wrong but seriously doubt it.

  • This issue has already begun, with the release of the new iPad. Apple basically had to make to separate iPad models for AT&T and Verizon. This is unacceptable! If I brought a handset it should be able to work across ALL networks. It’s the same thing as if I buy a Samsung flat screen HD TV, if that TV can only work with ONE cable company, that would be UNACCEPTABLE. Of course consumers realize that, but unfortunately they do not realize it with phones and tablets.

    Where can I sign this petition! I’m SICK of AT&T and Verizon doing what THEY want and ALWAYS harming the consumers. And they only do it because they have BILLIONS of dollars and because WE let them.

    Time to wake up and smell the coffee with these large corporations.

    • Fabian Cortez

      Apple didn’t have to do that.
      If you take a hard look at Verizon’s iPad specs, you’ll notice that it actually has more “tech” than AT&T’s.

      All Apple had to do was take Verizon’s [new] iPad and add 2100 MHz, 700 MHz (AT&T’s), and 1700 MHz (AWS) to make it a complete device. In the same vain as the iPhone 4S.

      I agree with T-Mobile here and find it odd and very silly to have four (4) separate bands under the 700 MHz band. Especially when they make PAMs (Power Amplifier Modules) that cover nine (9) W-CDMA bands in a [small] single package:


      I’m sure it’d be equally easy to make one for LTE even though this PAM is LTE compatible. 

  • Fcc made an effort 3 times since last year and impressed me with the result, I know they’ll make this happen….

  • HSPA+/LTEoverPCSnowPlease

    FCC can give the spectrum back to TV stations. Back in those days, a TV in one place or station can work on another. If government has no authority to mandate fairness, they have no obligation either to protect the carriers from jammers and spectrum squatters. Let’s all use the 700 MHz bands (yes, with an s) like we use FM transmitters and wifi (2.4Ghz) for our own use. It’ll mess the networks of AT&T and Verizon, but government should “stay away from regulations”. You want chaos, you get chaos.

  • Jon

    This would be great for mobile customers and would eliminate a lot of dead spots. So that would be even less dropped calls.

  • 21stNow

    I agree and will contact the FCC to second what T-Mobile said.  The beginning of the LTE rollout would have been the best time to jump on this.  Hopefully, we are not too late.

  • Jarrod

    Verizon and AT&T are pissed because this forces them to make it easier for there customers to switch off there crap networks, they need to get over it.

  • xmiro

    ok, where do we go to comment in support of T-Mobile’s propsal?

  • Thecityboy781

    where do I sign…I agree with TMobile on this one

  • loopyduck

    Incorrect. First you need to understand that, while bands are always stated as
    round numbers for simplicity’s sake (you know, 850, 1900, 1700, 2100),
    they are not actually precisely that number and are in fact a range.
    This is important because AT&T’s LTE 700 MHz bands are actually 704-716 for
    downloads and 734-746 for uploads. Meanwhile, Verizon’s LTE bands are
    776-787 for downloads and 746 to 757 for uploads. Unlike with the 2G/some 3G bands (post-refarming), there is no overlap.

    • Fabian Cortez

      You think I don’t know this?

      What I was emphasizing was the fact that single solution PAMs exist. That [TriQuint] PAM is LTE compatible with the already-defined UMTS frequency bands. If that PAM adhered to the new 700 MHz bands, then it would already have taken care of your aforementioned issues due to the requirement of meeting the 700 MHz specification. This is a non-issue as it’s not listed as adhering to Bands 13 and 17.

      The issue at hand is the fact that Apple purposely created two separate devices when it is very well possible to have one; no, space is not an issue.

      But the real issue at hand is the fact that we actually have this fragmentation in the bands.

      There should honestly be just a single 700 MHz band [spec] where hardware manufactures would have to adhere to covering the entire range (Bands 12, 13, 14, and 17). This would provide device interoperability, allow roaming agreements to be formed, and avoid unwanted hardware decision making due to the lack of bands.

      • loopyduck

        No, the real issue at hand is that there are a total of 38 frequency sets around the world being used for LTE that is built out, being built, or being planned, and most of them aren’t operating even close to 700 MHz. No single solution PAM will ever handle that.

        • Fabian Cortez

          Stop hairsplitting.

          The article is clearly about the 700 MHz LTE spectrum in the United States with petitions toward the FCC to align them all. I brought up talk about a PAM to handle that (700 MHz) fragmentation, not all 38. I also brought up a device targeted for LTE in the United States using the aforementioned band.

          Considering that a great deal of those 38 frequencies are subsets of one another, it is quite feasible for 4-5 PAMs to handle all 38. And no, that doesn’t take up much space. The iPhone 4 and 4S have four (4) UMTS PAMs; one for each frequency band.

          Now pull your head out and stand up straight.

        • loopyduck

          Hairsplitting? I’m just looking ahead, and without stooping to insults. I guess with all the knowledge packed in that head of yours you don’t have any room left to be civil. I guess I’ll risk your wrath once again and ask you, if it’s so simple, why didn’t Apple do it? Do you think Apple enjoys having even more variety in their product line? They already have to manage the different colors, storage space, and modem option. Having two LTE models increases the SKUs by 50%. And it’s not like they’re being sold equally; the AT&T model is the version that’s going to be sold abroad, which mean they’ll be selling a lot more of them. The Verizon model is (relatively) a niche model.

        • Fabian Cortez

          I guess you haven’t realized that it all comes down to money. It’s a two-sided coin (no pun intended) as well.

          One side is the money coming from the carriers urging separate devices. Did you not read the article? No matter how beneficial nor how much sense it makes, AT&T and Verizon will not oblige unless under mandate.

          AT&T and Verizon have argued against an FCC mandated interoperability rule for the 700MHz band, saying the government has no authority to create such a mandate. They also claim there are technical reasons against such a requirement and that a 700MHz mandate would create extreme development costs that could slow their respective rollouts of LTE.

          These are of
          course lies emanating from AT&T and Verizon. They claim interference with TV
          channels would emerge. Simple filters (LPF/BPF/HPF) would solve this.

          The other side
          of the coin is the money coming in from the populace. Making two devices makes
          Apple more money (at least in the US).

          Picture a
          customer with the new iPad on Verizon. Let’s just say one day he or she is fed up
          with the service and chooses to switch to AT&T. Well guess what? It’s a new new iPad
          versus being able to just cross shop for service.

          Apple started
          this “variety” with the introduction of the out of cycle CDMA version of the iPhone 4. So
          yes, I do actually think Apple enjoys having variety in their product line. It
          floods the market with their devices and appeases the shareholders.

          Money talks and that’s exactly what’s going on here.

        • Fabian Cortez

          To supplement my above comment with respect to money:

          Leaving out certain components for one customer (AT&T or Verizon) over another while still selling the different products at the same price is a win for Apple.

          Leaving out components for AT&T (such as a CDMA radio, which is unnecessary for AT&T) removes this cost from the BOM (Bill Of Materials). Take that cost and multiply it by the millions of iPads that will be sold on AT&T and internationally and one can see where this becomes lucrative. All while still selling the device wholesale at the same price they would to Verizon, Sprint, and other carriers who require the CDMA goodies.

          Managing different SKUs is all software-related and isn’t as exhaustive as one may think.

  • Dominique

    What’s the use of being able to roam with data on other carrier’s LTE when T-mobile will cut off your connection to data if you surpass 50MB if you have a 2GB plan.  Great, you can roam but you can’t use the data.

    • D4RK J35T3R

       LoL, really? Then why do i keep going over my 2GB cap, and never have any data loss or throttled speeds? Only reason this could happen to you, is if they are keepin an eye on your account. I.E. high credit risk, previous constant high usage such as your in the 5%, or your in an immensely populated area serviced by  T-Mobile and everyone is trying to use all that data at the same time to tether. Otherwise that will never happen. Ever. I’m not a T-Mo rep or ever have, just an extremely satisfied customer with the service they have done for me. Also on the T-Mo forums.

      • Aaron Tant

        well, to be fair, that policy hasn’t started yet.  It is due to roll out in early April (4th, I think).

  • UMA_Fan

    This is a better path to nationwide LTE than the att/tmobile merger.  That point should sell itself to the FCC.

  • Verizon and ATT hate this why? coz they dont want you to use other phones on their LTE and want you to buy from them

    • Hawaii_ry

      Carriers don’t make money off phones, i would argue they don’t like it because they want a competitive advantage of having their own nationwide LTE network; sue they could make money through roaming agreements but then the big dogs get beat by the small players value. IMHO 

  • Vic

    This is an idea I can get behind. As other’s have said, AT&T and Verizon objecting to this is most likely them trying to maintain a competitive advantage.

  • wsj

    That will never happen.  That would be great. Carriers would actually have to compete on price & service.

  • Would this mean current at&t LTE devices instantly become available(once unlocked) to be used on T-Mobiles LTE network once this is all squared and deployed?

  • M42

    AT&T and Verizon just want to snuff out the competition.