T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray Says Hurricane Sandy Will Delay Some 1900MHz HSPA+ Deployments

During a keynote speech at the 4G World Trade Show in Chicago, T-Mobile’s CTO told attendees that Hurricane Sandy will force the company to delay some deployments of its HSPA+ technology in the 1900MHz spectrum. Ray did tell those in attendance that the company has completed “95 percent of the refarming of its 1900MHz spectrum for HSPA+, will launch a series of additional markets before years-end.”

“We would have talked more about those markets today, but Hurricane Sandy made it not feasible,” Ray said.

According to the Fierce Wireless report, Ray also showed a video that T-Mobile plans to release to the public next week which intends to “set the record straight” on T-Mobile’s planned deal with MetroPCS. In the video Ray narrates and explains how the deal is a migration of customers, and not a migration of two networks. Ray further explains that MetroPCS customers can migrate onto T-Mobile’s network and since 60% of MetroPCS customers already change phones once per year, T-Mobile estimates they can fully migrate the Metro customer base by 2015.

In addition, T-Mobile plans to improve the “mobile experience” for Metro customers, including those who want LTE devices. The video closes with Ray saying that the two companies are better than one and the deal will improve customer choice.

We do have one question about Ray’s comments and that’s about the 95 percent competition of HSPA+ refarming. How is that 95% being quantified? Is that only in the areas that are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, nationwide, regionally? I’m not sure we’ll get clarification from Ray, but we’re completely understandable that any work in those areas affected by Hurricane Sandy might see some delays as T-Mobile crews work to restore service first, improve it second.

Fierce Wireless

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  • Dion Mac

    Wow, 95%… really? I’m with Dave I need some clarification on this.

    • kk888

      Refarm is cleaning up spectrum to use for another different pupose.
      Deployment is a different thing..

      • Trevnerdio

        Well that kinda sucks haha reduce 2G capacity aaandd we’ll eventually get back there to replace it with something lol

  • archerian

    If Las Vegas and Kansas City are 95%, I’d fear for the remaining 5%

    • JB

      It could be be that they got places ready to go, but they just haven’t flipped the switch in a lot of places, I would imagine…

      • Get_at_Me

        Makes sense based in his statement but why? Its been awhile since tmo announced the refarm. I would think that alot more markets wouldve officially launched by now

        • JB

          @Get_at_Me:disqus A lot of work goes into the refarming process. This is my theory (keep in mind I could and am completely wrong) They get the equipment installed for the spectrum reallocation for the remaining markets and then light them up all at once for a big marketing push. They used Vegas and KC as the first two “test” markets to see what a broad rollout might look like. I’m just thinking of it like a new spot cleaner.. You test it on a smaller piece of fabric to make sure there’s no discoloration before starting on a larger area. Though like I said, I could be way off.

        • TMOTECH

          Not way off. but a bit. we are lighting up sites as they are completed. Vegas and KC just got a head start on all of the other markets due to available resources

        • Jays_on

          Wichita KS???

      • Fabian Cortez

        That sounds about right.

  • fentonr

    So, this is just a guess, but based some comments I’ve heard it sounds like the “refarm” is simply just re-allocating spectrum but that it doesn’t mean that customers will be able to use 1900mhz for hspa+. From what I’m hearing, it sounds like the refarm is more of a backend preparation kind of thing while actually getting hspa+ up on the 1900 band requires visiting each tower.


      Finally someone who understands. New equipment is required at each site.

      • JB

        That’s what I figured as well, but my knowledge is a bit limited in that area, so I’m not sure I would’ve been put as well as yours… What’s your opinion on this next statement? Perhaps T-Mobile just used Vegas and KC for a test run of a larger rollout? And perhaps they were going to get the rest of the refarm equipment installed and ready to go to light up the remaining markets all at once for one big marketing push?

    • J-Hop2o6

      Here’s some working Tmo HSPA+ PCS sightings: http://www.airportal.de

  • TeflonFong

    The deployment looked rampant in the past couple of weeks in South Florida – I have picked up 3G on my iPhone in parts of Miami and Hollywood (Hard Rock Casino – Halloween weekend) even on sections of the 595, but unfortunately nothing so far where I live and work in Broward (Davie/Plantation).

  • Bud

    I am in NYC and I never got 3G on my iPhone

    • Matt

      I’m in Queens and I’ve gotten it in one area. Walk a two blocks in either direction and it’s gone. Hopefully they just have to “flip the switch.”

      Edit – TMOTech’s post is insightful.

      • Bud

        i am in corona queens, work in midtown and hang out in bay ridge brooklyn. i have never gotten 3g. no 3g in bayside,elmhurst,east elmhurst,flushing,.

        • kk888

          There’s 1900 3G around the Flushing Main st station..

        • tcole1322

          bay ridge between 87th st and 93rd on 3rd ave you will get 3g on your iPhone

    • MacRat

      Others are reporting they are.


      • Guest

        3G and HSPA+ around Broadway station in Astoria

  • Can anyone with more knowledge explain what to they have to do to each tower to “refarm” the network or lets say add LTE ?

  • Tony R

    Over the last few weeks I have picked up 3G on my iPhone in Chicago and that was in some places and last week I got it at my house so did other people… Last night everywhere I was going there was 3G looked like they were lighting it up places where I have went and always had edge and 2 bars of signal I had 3G an full bars am restarted my phone and still got 3G. Spoke to a TMo store and they said they are launching it at many parts and today they are working on it. Excited for chicago’s 3G super fast I even snap shot the 3G speed test and 3G super cool!

    • Mike

      Where in Chicago?
      I live NW side and work Downtown and no 3g yet for me.

      • Ricky

        I live in Boystown and I don’t have 3G. I work at O’Hare and 3G is up and running! I’m so happy. It’s a little spotty but it works.

        • Ricky

          3G up @ Boystown today!!!!!!!!!

      • Tony r

        Skokie lincolnwood Northside roger park a lot of places ohare airport.

      • tmobilenator

        I drive around the city a lot for work and have yet to see any 3G on my Iphone. The closest to the city I have gotten is in Schaumburg (and thats not that close)

    • yup!! I’ve also gotten 3G in Hoffman estates area. :))

  • Get_at_Me

    Does anyone else think tmo is taking an awful long time to get 1900 hspa working nationally? Theyve only announced a few cities officially with many more unofficial “sitings”. At this rate itll be yrs before all planned markets are officially refarmed. I was expecting that the bulk of the markets would be done by the end of the yr (not a handful of markets)


      It takes lots of time to install new equipment on 37,000 cell sites. It takes about a week to complete each site.

      • Get_at_Me

        i understand that its not as easy as waving a magic wand to get everything up and running, but one would expect many more markets to be offically live at this stage in the game. Maybe my expectations are unrealistic but i was thinking that a good chunk of the country (majority even) would be up by year’s end. Is LTE prep included in this aswell? Will these longer refarm conversion times now allow for a quick LTE deployment next yr?

        • TMOTECH

          The modernization effort is prepping the sites for the LTE installs. I would suspect that deployment will go a bit quicker. But You must realize that I am just a Technician. I know what our overall plans are but I am not privy to the things that are “bigger than me”. Leases, contracts, permits NTP’s, all need to be considered when adding new equipment to a tower.

    • When they announced the refarm, TMO indicated that it would be completed by the end of this year, not immediately and LTE at the end of 2013. They’ve still got 2 months left on that commitment, and despite not officially announcing too many new markets, I have found myself on 3G far more frequently here in the SF bay area. I live in the north bay and commute to the mid-peninsula and the south bay area daily, so in all about a 75 mile stretch. I rarely, if ever left edge on my blackberry, which I swapped last month for a 4S. In fact, just 2 weeks ago, I met a couple techs in Santa Rosa who were working on TMO towers and said they were traveling & busting butt all over the U.S. on towers, so that leaves me hopeful that they’re working hard to meet their commitment.

    • Turtle6988

      Refarming doesnt mean turned on just the spectrum is cleared. Detroit is turning up over 200 sites with the 3G 1900 by the end of the year. MARKETS WILL NOT ANNOUNCE UNTIL A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF SITES ARE TURNED UP.

  • Jake

    I was skeptically of the 95% amount (atleast if he was applying it to network wide (or atleast more likely 3g/4g network wide)) but then I looked at this map (link below) that I havent checked out for a few weeks and it appears theyve really ramped the refarm up since I last checked (at that time there was maybe 10 pins on it mostly on the west coast, now theyre all over).


    On a secondary note, I see none are in Wisconsin does anybody from the state have an iphone or non-Tmobile phone they can pop their sim in and check if its here. I dont have a non tmobile phone to check with otherwise id try and add some pins to the map, if its happening here. I’d like to think based on the widespread nature shown on the map that some in milwaukee and possibly madison would be getting done and that its just no one here has tried but i dont know if thats just wishful thinking or not.

    • kiblawi2000

      I live in Madison and go home to Milwaukee on occasion I use a Nokia N97 and have yet to see any 3G activity here either, I have a feeling that Milwaukee, at the least, will be in the second round of market lightups, where the first round will be larger metro markets like chicago and the twin cities

  • M42

    Edge is currently on 1900 MHZ and HSPA+ on 1700 MHZ. Refarming means changing out Edge for 3G/4G HSPA+. Nobody uses 1700 MHZ in this country and they’ve had a hard time getting phone manufacturers to add this odd frequency. Also, by upgrading the 1900 band they hope to attract old iPhone users who are off their contracts with AT&T and want to save a little money.

    From what I’ve seen rural areas are still going to stay on Edge as the refarming seems to be taking place in major metro areas. In fact, T-Mobile has said only areas with significant population bases (whatever that means) will see refarming.

  • Vlad

    Typical TMo style. Announce that something is happening, get everyone excited and then…<>


    95% refarm means that we have carved out the frequencies from the 2G layer and are ready to deploy the 1900Mhz UMTS. It needs to be understood that there are 37,000 sites being modified and it takes about a week to complete each site. There are thousands of crews around the country working tirelessly to install the new equipment, antennas cabinets and hybrid fiber optic from the ground to the top of the tower. This takes a lot of time and hard work. It is way more than just re-configuring the existing network.

    • hogasswild

      When you say 37,000 sites, that is TMO’s entire tower inventory. Based on previous TMO statements, I thought the 3g upgrades were only focused on metro areas, not the entire tower inventory.

      • TMOTECH

        Our network has approximately 52,000 sites. 37,000 are 3G

        • Birdsfan

          Since you’re in the know perhaps you can enlighten us with some of the T-Mobile engineering philosophy. Between my township and the neighboring township we have over 35,000 residents yet T-Mobile service is not only thin thin thin (has been since I came on board in 2001) but a good portion of the area is EDGE or worse. I must have called in more than 20 times and filed tickets but nothing has improved. Is this the T-Mobile way???

        • Duarte from Google

          If your area is called a township or plantation, unfortunately T-Mobile will find it unreasonable to provide with metro market like services. That’s my educated guess.

        • Noel

          Are u impersonating the real Duarte from Google…doubt it is the Guy with the interesting colored shirts..seems to be a cool guy.

        • trife

          Man, 11 years of EDGE and spotty coverage? Why haven’t you switched providers?!!

          I’m all for TMO loyalty, but sometimes you have to go with whoever works best. It sounds like in your area, TMO is clearly not that company!

          Then again, you’ve waited this long so maybe a few more years can’t hurt.

        • Romanol

          my area is a 4G location. however i only get edge speed on all my 4g tmobile device. i also files tickets, noting got done

        • Michael Cromer

          Make sure you don’t have a setting wrong. For example, on my Galaxy Nexus, there’s a setting to “Use 2G networks only” to save battery.

        • hogasswild

          Do you think all 52,000 towers will be upgraded?

        • TMOTECH

          Eventually. Could be a few years though. Gotta put resources where they have the biggest impact.

        • Trevnerdio

          Unlike Sprint, who prefers to bathe the cows in 4G first and foremost ;)

      • Bob

        Tmobile has ~50,000 cell sites, 37,000 of those have 3G/4G.

      • andrewmelcher

        this is so funny. Tmobile customers know exactly how many towers tmobile has.

        I would like to see a verizon customer know exacty how many towers verizon wireless operates. I am sure not one VW customer knows how many towers VW has.

        it is almost sad. Like a starving kid on christmas living in a 1 bedroom apartment with 11 others… hoping and waiting to get one present and a meal.

        wtf? switch providers. ATT Verizon…seriously

    • AxisFx

      At you calculation it will take 70.95 Years to complete

      • JB

        Not if they have techs everywhere working on multiple towers at once :-)

      • TMOTECH

        You assume incorrectly we are doing one site at a time. I said thousands of crews. Not one crew.

    • fsured

      If they are replacing equipment could they reuse it on the 2g tower sites to give a larger footprint of hspa+? If I understand correctly the frequency now used for this signal is to remain as is correct?

      • TMOTECH

        They are not replacing the 3G equipment. They are adding 1900MHZ 3G equipment to the existing network.

        • M42

          Why are they adding 3G when everybody else has moved to 4G? Where I live T-Mobile has Edge coverage, while AT&T has HSPA+ 4G and LTE throughout the whole region. And no, I don’t live in a village, the metro population is 400K and T-Mobile’s coverage is pathetic.

        • qpinto

          because once you leave a metro area, all you have is “2g.” when you replace the “2g” with “3g” most people will be able to do 99% of their phone functions while travelling. id rather have nationwide 3g with high metro areas with 4g than 2g nationally and 4g only in metro areas.

        • John Wentworth

          Agreed, I get excellent coverage in my state on hspa+, I’m lucky to live in NJ where 4G HSPA+ is pretty universal, but if I travel out of state it’s frustrating to drop to 2G so often.

        • TMOTECH

          You misunderstand. HSPA+ is 3G technology. We call it 4G because it can go faster than 14.4Mbps. The definition of “4G” was changed last year from LTE-A to anything that is highly advanced 3G capable of a certain speed…blah blah blah. Because at the end of the day the difference between HSPA+ and LTE is the carrier width and a Pure IP connection. Which is why Voice over LTE is so hard to accomplish. But I digress. At the end of the day the 1900MHZ we are installing on top of the AWS will be HSPA+ and it will be better and faster.

        • M42

          Thanks for the clarification. The International Cellular Standards Committee (I think I have the name right) does recognize HSPA+ 42 as 4G, along with two other standards, so in my mind there is a difference in the terms used.

    • rugmankc

      Thanks for inputs TMOTECH–how do i find out when my area will even get 42mb–my house and work are poor strength yet in a 4g 21mb area and contract is almost up–can’t wait till 2020 for lte

    • M42

      Does this mean Edge will be replaced with 3G/4G? Or are you simply moving your 3G/4G from 1700 MHZ to the 1900 MHZ just to please the iPhone crowd. I’m on Edge 80-85% of the time and would be thrilled if it were replaced with HSPA+. I’ve gotten conflicting answers from T-Mobile about exactly what the refarm is and I hope you can answer my question; you’ve been very helpful and forthcoming here. Thanks.

      • TMOTECH

        It will be a long time before EDGE is Replaced. 1900MHZ HSPA+ will be added to the network. It is hard to say what will happen in your area without knowing where your area is. 3G/4G will always be expanding to new areas and some of the network that does not have it now will get it during modernization. But I cannot speak to any specifics. I am in the know for the market that I work in but not other markets. I will not confirm what market I am in because I would like to remain as anonymous as possible.

        • M42

          Thank you again for coming here and answering our questions. I appreciate and respect that you wish to not disclose your location and would not expect you to risk your job.

          I am hopeful, however, that the large Edge network in my areas will get 3G/4G added. Voice is fine on Edge, but data is horribly slow. I do appreciate T-Mobile’s consistent signal. A couple of other carriers signals bounce up and down like a yo yo, but T-Mobiile’s signal Edge and HSPA+ is very consistent.

  • mreveryphone

    TMOTECH stays on point with the info!

  • 95%? There isn’t a hint of 3G yet anywhere here in the Charlotte area yet. I’m hoping we’re not going to be totally left out of the refarm else I might have to consider leaving T-Mobile because I’m not getting an Android phone.

    • loopyduck

      The 95% he means is, they’ve done all the backroom setup stuff for coverage. Next comes the part where they actually put in new equipment. THAT part is nowhere near 95%.

      • andrewmelcher

        another tmobile marketing lie.
        T MObile used a natural catastrophe and disaster to advertise and promote a product with a play on words making it sound like they are 95 % complete (completely complete) when they arent even half way.
        This is why I hate tmobile. Using a natural disaster to promote their bullshit.
        Millions without power and lives lost and tmobile lies about how close they are to 1900mghz.

        • loopyduck

          “Using a natural disaster to promote their bullshit.”

          Did you even bother to read the post?
          “During a KEYNOTE SPEECH at the 4G World Trade Show in Chicago, T-Mobile’s CTO told attendees that Hurricane Sandy will force the company to DELAY…”

          Or even the title?
          “T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray Says Hurricane Sandy Will DELAY Some 1900MHz HSPA+ Deployments”

          You DO know what a trade show is, right? And a keynote speech? And a delay? “Oh, gosh, I know how I’ll advertise our service: by talking about how our service will not be available for a longer period of time–which means it’s costing us millions of dollars–at a convention that I was INVITED to talk at”… said no executive ever.

          If you hate T-Mobile so much, why are you even here, instead of counting the days until you can get out of your contract and switch to another provider?

  • maria390

    I can assure u they haven’t done any of this reframing thing in los Angeles lol I’m sitting here with edge on my unlocked iPhone n a t-mobile sim, edge sucks I think I’m just gonna get a galaxy s3 from T-Mobile cuz my friend has one and t-mobile’s hspa + is fast in LA ..

    • MacRat

      Many users in LA are reporting 3G signal.


      • Caligurl

        Well what part ofLA? East la, Montebello,dwtwn,pico Rivera,Compton,south central,Hollywood???they all show edge on the iPhone with a tmobile sim . Do u even live in LA? I BET u dnt cuz then u wud know tmobile sukz in LA and they haven’t done this refarming thing over here. Like Maria said I might also do the same as her n just get a good phone on contract so I could get 4G of some kind weather is on tmobile or att or Verizon cuz I’m TIRED OF being stuck on tmobile edge in my iPhone 4s its horrible slow n I cnt use voice n data at the same time.

        • MacRat

          “Well what part ofLA?”

          Take a look at the map and you will see where 1900MHz signal has been reported by other users.


        • matthanielnet

          Did you turn on 3G on your iPhone? When T-Mobile sets up an iPhone, they usually turn off 3G on the phone. I’ve been getting 3G all over the place in LA.

        • caligurl

          Yes I did still edge but no need to worry I just walked out the Verizon store in east la with a brand new razr maxx just did a speed test 42 mbps dwn 25 mbps up not bad something I never saw on tmobile so far I’m happy only thing I’m not gonna like is how much ima pay a month but oh well watevs..

        • andrewmelcher

          VW is expensive. LTE uses up more data too. WIth good data coverage easier to use data harder to not use your phone. I used about 10GB data month moderation with VW. too expensive. I cancelled. Att is same. good but expensive. HSPA 42 + is fast enough and reliable and T Mobile unlimited plan at $30. YIKES !!
          Congrats on your new phone. Truht is I would have VW if I could afford the data consumption i do.

        • Craigers

          Good riddance. Now please stay away from our forums.

  • I wouldn’t be shocked if they did already have the 1900 band ready in 95% of their HSPA+ towers, the other night I had no data signal in my area and in the neighboring city, I asked around and others had experienced that same thing that night in their area, or other nights before… I was guessing it might be for this or something else.


    Here’s that map:


  • Guest

    I am getting 3G on my iPhone 5 now in Southern California, but ping speeds are high and download speeds are particularly slow when I am connected to a specific two unique Cell IDs. Any thoughts on this TMOTECH?

  • Steve

    Well we can all see where this is going. I should have never left Straight Talk 4g worked great in Salt Lake City, Utah

  • UVMMedStudent

    Meanwhile we’re still stuck with 2G in Burlington, VT. So much for getting a college town on board T-Mobile.

    • Rob M

      Just moved here. This sucks! I can’t believe T-mobile hasn’t turned on 3g here yet. Every other cell phone company has 3g here including most of the prepaid carriers. I don’t feel like paying $200 for a new phone plus the fact that they will force me to pay the ETF to get out of contract. I hope they do something to improve the area soon but I won’t hold my breath.

  • trife

    All I want to know is when Huntsville, AL will be refarmed. And why is there a huge gaping hole showing on airportal.de from Birmingham north? While I know that website isn’t official, it feels disheartening only seeing sightings in Birmingham (100 miles south of me) and ATL (200 miles SE). None is TN, KY, AR or MS.

  • jarjar2007

    I hope they do this in New Mexico… We never get anything.

  • Gouv

    Relax guys, the refarm is inevitable and will happen. Stuff happens like super storm sandy.Its only a minor set back.

  • Steve

    I live in Colorado, but have not seen 3G yet. But I am here in Las Vegas this week visiting the SEMA show and now have been totally spoiled with 3G on my iphone4, works like I am on wifi all the time, all I can say is that it cannot come soon enough for 3G HSPA+ in Colorado.

    • ac21365

      3 sites are live (but require airplane mode toggle) here in Csprings (2 of which I sniffed out), and there’s a few on Airportal.de up in Denver. I’d expect Denver and CSprings to be done first, with Pueblo and Grand Junction to follow after. They might even be lit up now, but the chances of finding someone in those cities to test is is slim.

  • tmempho

    Is there any plans to refarm the spectrum in Memphis? And if so, how far down the list is Memphis.

  • Andrew Melcher

    I have a HTC One X att phone. I want to use it with T Mobile. I havent paid to unlock it yet becuase
    all I have read is the HTC One X can only get edge network speeds on TMobile because no 1900 MGHZ. I live in Woodland Hills Los Angeles CA
    Can I use the HSPA 42+ on my htc one x and get 4G speeds
    and than eventually the LTE T Mobile network in 13-15
    I wont need a new phone for couple years sounds like if this is true

  • Terrancetmobileguy

    Tmobile u guys just can’t compete I had high hopes for u all up till a couple days ago . I live in jersey , I have an iPhone 3 and when sandy came everybody with t -mobile had no service . In fact my phone now switches to AT&T every now and them bcuz ur towers blow ! My brother is a commercial driver, and drives to California weekly he said his partner every day complains about not having service in certain places. Lmfao , sucks to suck doesn’t it ?

  • Terrancetmobileguy

    T-mobile = B.C
    Verizon/sprint/AT&T = 21st century

    • LOL@ Sprint with their dial-speed “3G” data

  • Tronix_Connection

    i get 3g on my iPhone 4s.. im in Fremont, California.. in northern cali.. Bay Area.. got 6 mbps download speeds on SPEEDTEST.NET app

  • Matt

    Still no siting in utah with salt lake metro area having close to 1.2 million people and the wasatch front has some 2.4 million people. I’m quite ashamed of t-mobile completely forgetting about utah on not only this but many other things.

  • Jandar

    I’m having a hard time seeing why Arizona is being left out of the re-farm (or so it seems). With Phoenix being the 6th largest city in the US, it seems like a pretty important market. Perhaps I’m wrong?

  • James

    Will I be able to use AT&T HTC Windows Phone 8X on Tmobile? If yes, am I going to get HSPA+ speeds?

  • Mãrç Àñthøñÿ

    Any knowledge on when 1900 Spectrum will be coming to Victoria Texas? We have 4G HSPA but no 3G iPhone