What Does The T-Mobile, MetroPCS Merger Mean For You?

With 24 hours underneath our belts since the announcement of the T-Mobile, MetroPCS merger it’s time to take a step back and understand how this deal will affect you, the T-Mobile customer. The truth is that for now, you won’t see any changes other than the continuation of T-Mobile’s challenger strategy as they refarm their network and begin to rollout LTE.

The deal with MetroPCS isn’t expected to go through until sometime next year, so T-Mobile and MetroPCS will continue with a “business as usual” approach, just like AT&T and T-Mobile. If you recall, T-Mobile continued to run attack ads against AT&T while the deal was awaiting regulatory approval, because they took a “business as usual approach,” that’s the same case here. By the end of this year, T-Mobile expects to have the majority of their top 50 markets refarmed allowing for 3G/4G coverage on their 1900MHz band. As we move into next year, T-Mobile will continue to expand that footprint beyond the top markets. The middle of 2013 should also see the start of T-Mobile’s LTE rollout, though we don’t have an exact date for when that will begin.

Once T-Mobile and MetroPCS join in 2013, they will remain two separate entities, both the T-Mobile name and MetroPCS name will still exist. As Sascha Segan from PCMag suggests, they make take a Sprint/Virgin Mobile approach with T-Mobile becoming the contract and B2B focused branch, with no-contract subscribers under the MetroPCS brand.

Once the deal closes in 2013, T-Mobile can start selling the same devices to both T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers. As I ┬árepeatedly said on social media yesterday, my biggest hope for this deal is that with a bigger customer count, T-Mobile can try and leverage more handset exclusives. This is particularly frustrating as word comes down that AT&T has locked up exclusivity deals for both the HTC One X+ and Lumia 920. Regardless of your handset preference, these are two flagship devices that T-Mobile will miss out on when all the momentum is with their launches. It’s particularly frustrating and my hope is that with more size, comes more leverage and bargaining power.

Once we move into 2014 and 2015, the deal becomes a little more fruitful as the combined company begins to join networks. T-Mobile can use MetroPCS spectrum to expand their LTE footprint as both companies have set up or are set to release an LTE network on the AWS 1700MHz band. T-Mobile is Release 10 LTE, which is already set to show speeds as fast if not slightly faster than Verizon or AT&T. With MetroPCS spectrum in various cities, T-Mobile can expand their LTE capacity allowing for more speed and better coverage by building on Metro’s existing LTE network.

It’s when we get to 2015 that we see the really great spectrum play with T-Mobile and MetroPCS as both companies highlighted some 20×20 LTE spectrum coverage in some major markets around the country. In these markets, which include New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Boston, San Francisco, Tampa, Las Vegas, Orlando, Sacramento, and Detroit, LTE speeds will be twice as fast as Verizon’s LTE and 4x as fast as MetroPCS’s current network configuration.

To recap, for now, the two companies will continue with a “business as usual” approach until the deal is approved by regulators, hopefully sometime in 2013. At that point, the plan will be to migrate MetroPCS’ 1900MHz spectrum over to HSPA+, just as T-Mobile is doing with their own PCS spectrum. Metro’s current AWS spectrum will be used to expand and enhance T-Mobile’s own future AWS LTE network. As for how handsets, rate plans and the rest of those details will work, it’ll probably be some time before we get any sort of concrete detail.

If you’re a Metro customer, go about your business and continue as though nothing as changed, just as T-Mobile customers should do. At the very least, it won’t be until sometime later next year until there is likely to be an opportunity for MetroPCS customers to grab T-Mobile devices anyway, so — as you were.

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  • squiggleslash

    That map is completely misleading. It identifies all overlapping territories as MetroPCS areas. I guess it’s not as impressive otherwise, I was looking at the non-overlapping areas last night and… well, there’s not a lot of them.


      it is not about that. It is about the spectrum. The Spectrum will allow for a more robust and clean 3G/LTE network that will completely smash the competition.

      • gtdeaner

        Sure they will, TMO is a shit company to customers and employees. Everything they do is only targeted at bringing more money to DT and that’s it.

  • Merry Cricka!!

    Still can’t believe Trash Mobile aka. T-Mobile bought Metro Piece Of Sh*t! I’ve had enough!! I’m porting to Cricket to get there New i-Phone 5!!!

    • Paul

      You do that…and enjoy the terrible coverage.
      Just don’t use the map to navigate home, you’ll get lost.
      Side note, you can use the iPhone on T-Mobile. There’s several articles here about it, and a video with a quick explanation from the CEO!

      • HeLLkAt31


    • Little T

      Bye bye

  • Fantastic article David, I agree with your points. So excited I’m in the Detroit Metro area suburb, we already have great HSPA+42 Spectrum and speeds(20 to 25Mbps) and after we combine companies we are going to have KILLER backhaul for our AWS LTE Advance! soooo excited – D

    • Paul

      I like the access to towers, customer, and spectrum. I think this is a good move, though it won’t show immediate results.
      I don’t like that DT is using this as a means to back it’s self out of T-Mobile USA. We get it, you don’t want to work in the American market. Then again, this could be a Cinderella story.

    • *Sniff* Makes me wanna go back home & stay back home. I didn’t live in the Suburbs, but I stayed in a nice Detroit neighborhood. Our signal & data speeds were always exceptional.

      • Come on D, where you at?! Come back to the D!! ; D

        • Lol. I’m in the nowhere’s of Indiana, Pennsylvania for school. Ugh, I miss the CITY!

        • Wats up wit da lions

    • Mirad77

      How in this world do you get 20-25 MBps on HSPA+ 42? Mbps?

      • Easy, come to Michigan.

        • ST84

          I’m also in the Metro Detroit suburbs and easily pull 18-25mbps average on my S2, S3, and Amaze, and sometimes even peak higher speeds depending on time of day and my location. The outer surrounding Detroit area has good TMO coverage and always has for the most part. However, Metro’s current “LTE” is slower than Sprint’s WiMax in these areas (maxing around 4-5mbps, and no, that’s not a lie. Metro is terrible and always has been around here), but glad to see it’ll be redone and completely sped up. Not too sure how I’ll feel though if my service plan increases in price. A few bucks here and there won’t bother me, but a significant increase might make me look elsewhere, even though I’d prefer not to and also because I’ve been with TMO since Voicestream days.

        • Mike

          Your speed numbers for MetroPCS’ LTE are right for metro Detroit — I’m there, too — but for the price, I cannot complain. Most things stream/download fast enough.
          Sprint never installed a fully functioning WiMax network in metro Detroit, and abandoned plans to do so when they belatedly realized the future was LTE. I left Sprint after 12 years when my new home was a near 100% dead zone. No signal in the house at all, and weak one outside.
          I know this is about T-Mobile, but compared to Sprint’s overburdened 3G network, MetroPCS 4G LTE and CDMA voice network has been great for me.

        • ST84

          I agree with just about 95% of your post. Only issue is, I have friends with Metro in my local area, and even a little further out, where they get horrible service, and extremely slow data speeds. However, i agree 100% on the Sprint, because I live with family who have Sprint, and it is also ridiculously slow. I’m not saying Metro in general as a whole is bad, but to call their network “LTE,” is making a mockery of the technology. Their speeds are nowhere even close to what LTE is, and to them it is just a term. Sprint on the other hand always has bad coverage, and whether they call it WiMax, EVDO, LTE… Sprint is bad no matter what.

        • Little T

          By “terrible” you mean their speed is terrible? Or, just they are “all around terrible because they are slow if it ever works”?

        • ST84

          In my current location, as far as Sprint goes, they have always been slow with data, and bad reception and signal in ANY buildings, and sometimes even in your own home, where you should have good coverage according to their map. For Metro, I don’t think they’re a bad carrier, but since they are regional, they are also very spotty, and their LTE is very slow, to even be called LTE. With the revision and overlap of networks, though, it should speed up TMO and Metro when the merger is all final. Metro is great for prices, it’s just their network currently isn’t very strong. If data, or coverage outside of “somewhat” major cities, then Metro probably wouldn’t be a bad choice for someone.

        • ST84

          If data, or coverage outside of “somewhat” major cities **isn’t a major issue to you, you don’t stream much, don’t mind slower data than most other carriers, or you don’t travel much**, then Metro probably wouldn’t be a bad choice for someone. – My post above cut off, so I put the edit in here. Sorry about that. – ST84

        • Andrew Baxendale

          That’s only some parts. I only received Edge (2g) in South Haven and Saugatuck when I visited.

        • ST84

          That is exactly the point I’m trying to get across. Very spotty and very slow, depending on a lot of factors. Hopefully once the networks coverage areas overlap and the “real” LTE starts rolling out, it will increase speeds dramatically, and also improve spots that currently have no service. If we get stuck with Metro’s current LTE, and that’s how TMO is going to rollout their LTE through ‘013, and rather than it being revamped and new, and instead just Metro’s slow system.. we may be in for a rude awakening.

        • Mirad77

          Just correct yourself and move on for no device on planet earth with HSPA+42 wil ever get 20-25 MBps.

        • ST84

          Where did I state 25MBps? I can post screenshots if you really need proof. Current HSPA+42 devices in my local area, EASILY pull 20-25mbps average, and sometimes higher peaks. Again, where did I say MBps, and not mbps? I do it every single day. You have no idea what you’re trying to bitch about.

        • Mirad77

          I initially replied and asked a question to a post, it was corrected and we moved on. If you can read as you claim to do then you would have understood my emphasis on MBps /mbps.

        • ST84

          Trust me, I did read it and it was clear. The point is you’re telling me and others to “move on,” and that it can’t be done, yet it’s not even the same tech we’re speaking of. Therefore, you should move on, and not us. Nobody is trying to argue with you but you’re the one trying to point out things that can and can’t be done, when it’s not even relevant. It’s really not a big issue and I realize it was cleared up, but your last post was still picking apart statements that are two completely different things. From the beginning to the end, it was mbps and not MBps. No issue, but lets not pick things apart that are opposites.

      • Jon

        mbps. not MBps.

    • Richard Yarrell

      Great article that’s for sure. I am happyto be on Tmobile.

  • Aurizen

    so T-mobile will get metro’s iphone? will that work on their network i think the iphone from metro is CDMA


      Metro does not have the iPhone

    • fixxmyhead

      please run into traffic for being so stupid

  • Mark

    Here’s what it doesn’t mean: more effort by/opportunity for Tmo to expand “America’s formerly-largest 4G network” beyond major metros. I’d love to see a version of that Tmo coverage map that differentiates between HSPA+, plain HSPA (3G), and EDGE/GPRS coverage. Even their online coverage map doesn’t show 4G plainly anymore. I’ve seen speedtest go above 10 MBps exactly once in New England, and that was on the UConn campus; even in downtown Boston it tops out around 8.

    • Mirad77

      10Mbps or 10MBps as those are two world apart. You should be a very wealthy guy to afford 10MBps speed.

      • Mark

        Leasing a T1 to a local ISP POP isn’t that expensive, relatively speaking. You’d be losing the mobility aspect, but you’d still have 10 MBps.

        But yes, it was actually Mbps. I’m a programmer and I feel that using bits instead of bytes as a standard of measurement is bogus, since bits alone can carry very little information. All it does is inflate the statistics by a factor of 8 in the carrier’s favor.

        So, having established that, do you have any response to the substance of my observation? I ran a speed test today, and with a clear line of sight (over water) to the nearest tower which claimed to be HSPA+, and in the heart of Portland, I got a 2 Mbps download speed. Any hope for improvements?

        • Mirad77

          I was just pulling your leg there. But all jokes aside I do get good signal and speed in areas where I would only get edge where I live (since the refarm started in my area). I get between 3.7-8 mbps on ip4S when I spot 3G. As far as the map goes that will be up to Tmo. We all hope from what the CEO said to get improved speed and signal strength when all the refarm is done.

  • Josue

    damn,David well written article hats off for making great points

  • Dakota

    Guess I misunderstood another article; I thought by 2015, the metro PCs name would be gone…I’m OK with them doing a sprint/virgin thing but I’d recommend coming with a brand new name & fresh start..metro brand has bad reputation

    • Adrayven

      You are correct, the new company will fly under the banner of T-Mobile. The CEO even said as much in his video posted.

  • OmeerRahman

    I bet with their refarming efforts T-Mobile isn’t concerned about At&t having exclusivity over any top tier phone since they’ll run on T-Mobile’s network. Maybe they’re just counting on and planning to put their efforts behind marketing their new network rather than obtaining exclusive phones. I think they should count on both, the average consumer doesn’t care about the technicalities of how a At&t branded phone would run on T-Mobile.

  • crazychef

    call me stupid but what do they mean by a 20 by 20 network?

  • DaGuru

    Being an RF guy, I am sorry David, this time you have done a horrible job explaining LTE and how this can/will pan out.

    First, please make corrections when you refer to LTE band 10. What you mean to say is that they will deploy a network capable of Release 10 LTE. (reference: http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4375408/T-Mobile-gears-up-LTE-Release-10-network) In addition to speed, this offers VoLTE, something that I understand ATT and VZ don’t currently support based on the hardware they have released.

    Next, there is no such thing as 20×20 LTE, you may want to say capable for up to 8×8 MIMO. Currently Tmo can support 4×4 MIMO in markets with 20MHz. and in markets where they have 30MHz (30MHz uplink, 30 downlink) they can do 4×4 with today. All in AWS frequencies. To release capacity currently tied up with Tmo’s 3G network (which also runs on AWS) they will require PCS spectrum onto which they can deploy 3G (what we call PCS 3G or “iphone” capable 3G frequencies). So, MetroPCS being a PCS CDMA carrier and also being a pre-pay no contract carrier allows for a quicker shift of customrs to UMTS handsets. As more customers are taken off CDMA and onto UMTS (which uses WCDMA) the bandwidth availability increases to offer additional capacity on UMTS..CDMA uses 1.25MHz per carrier. WCDMA uses 5MHz for a carrier. The more carriers, the more capacity

    I hope this helps, I do urge you to make some corrections,

  • NUkid

    It is kind of weird that TMO is buying Metro and then selling off its own assets. The Des Moines Iowa market is being sold to I-Wireless which is a very poorly run company with horrible coverage.

  • So do you think the LTE Rollout Will mean opprotunities for the iphone?