T-Mobile says it did not overstate 4G LTE coverage to FCC

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Earlier this month, the Rural Wireless Association said that T-Mobile and Verizon overstated their coverage while submitting documents to the FCC as part of its Mobility Fund Phase II program. Now T-Mobile has responded.

“RWA’s vague and irresponsible statements regarding T-Mobile’s MF-II maps are unsupported by any evidence and are patently false,” T-Mobile said in a letter to the FCC. T-Mo went on to say that it followed procedures and submitted shapefiles to the FCC reflecting its 4G LTE coverage as of December 2017, which is consistent with the FCC’s instructions, and that the submitted files are more likely to understate coverage as T-Mobile expanded its network through the challenge process.

“RWA’s misrepresentations are part of an ongoing pattern of baseless allegations by the organization against T-Mobile designed to delay or thwart competition in rural America and deprive rural Americans of meaningful choice for broadband services,” T-Mo added. “The organization’s repeated disregard for fact-based advocacy is a disrespectful waste of Commission time and resources.”

Meanwhile, the RWA is sticking to its claims, telling Ars Technica that in speed tests conducted by its members in March through November, T-Mobile’s coverage isn’t what T-Mo claimed it was in its January filing.

The FCC has said that it’s launched an investigation into whether “one or more major carriers” violated the MF-II program rules and submitted incorrect coverage maps. While the FCC hasn’t said which carriers it’s investigating, some have thought that they may be T-Mobile and Verizon since those are the two carriers that were called out by the RWA. However, T-Mobile says that it hasn’t been contacted by the FCC regarding it’s investigation into the alleged violations of the MF-II program’s rules.

The MF-II program is intended to give up to $4.53 billion in government support to carriers to deploy coverage in rural areas. The FCC is asking carriers to submit coverage maps so that the FCC knows which parts of the U.S. need wireless coverage and where it should distribute its money, which is why it’s important for carriers to submit accurate maps and for the FCC to get to the bottom of this situation. It’s unclear what’ll happen next, but with T-Mobile and the RWA standing firm in their positions, the FCC will have to sort this out.

Via: Ars Technica
Source: FCC

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  • Adam Thodey

    There might be a little truth in it (since i didn’t read either the accusation nor the response, this might not really coincide but my experience with their coverage maps) . I live on top of a hill, where my experience is that anyone can get cell phone service from about my house elevation and above as long as they have line of site to the tower outside the valley on the plains… below this elevation, no mobile phone coverage except via WIFI (which is from our neighbourhood business for internet via microwave.. so 1.5 to 5 Mbps). and so it appears that some of the coverage that Tmobile says we have is from that… so they should update the key / color on the map to differentiate… one of these months i will actually take their map and find the actual areas they say we have coverage in my mountian neighbourhood and see if it is actually 4G LTE coverage.. just my experience

    • SirStephenH

      T-Mobile DOES NOT count WiFi as part of its coverage, only cellular.

      The issue with ALL carrier maps is that carriers are unable to map every square foot of coverage so a lot of it is estimated based on tower location, band usage, transmit power, terrain, etc, etc, etc. Sometimes the estimation is very accurate and other times it is not. It doesn’t help that the FCC is pretty hands off when it comes to mapping so there is no one single method that all carriers follow.

  • James Smith

    T-Mobile is so full of it.

    • Fabian Cortez

      T-Mobile is so full of it.

      So is Verizon, apparently.

    • SirStephenH

      They all are. Don’t try to just pin this on T-Mobile.

  • Eric

    Caught in a lie.

  • Sharti24

    Again….T-mobile should show us the same map that they use when theyre looking up coverage on their computer. Its a green map and shows where towers are located and what frequency they broadcast. The system they use is called grand station. It shows you what towers are being worked on too. (modernization)

  • Ascertion

    From what I understand, “Fair” coverage is pretty much no coverage in a lot of areas around me. I report these problem areas to T-Force but I think they are low priority.

  • (J²)

    The problem is a lot of those who jump to online forums to report coverage issues, also do so from their $50 budget phone. These phones do not have all the frequencies and therefor do not tap into the benefits of faster speeds and expanded coverage. Even those of us who shell out a lot of money are not always getting the latest and greatest in regards to speeds and coverage.

    Unfortunately, every day phone representatives and store associates do not know this.

    This problem is likely to get worse once T-Mobile acquires Sprint as more spectrum would have to be integrated.

    I’m not going to speak to whether or not these violation claims are valid or not.

    • Ascertion

      I believe having access to Sprint’s Nationwide Band 26 should help with coverage.

      • (J²)

        You’re right but T-Mobile doesn’t currently use Band 26. So the real challenge would be getting everyone migrated over to a device that can actually tap into these additional bands. T-Mobile still sells devices that cannot tap into Band 12 and 71 which is a large chunk of their improved network over recent years.

        • bkat11

          If you go unlocked thru Apple or Samsung you can access band 26

        • (J²)

          I’m pretty sure those who are only interested in low budget or the absolute cheapest phone and complaining about their poor service are not going to do that.

          The statement above likely doesn’t apply to anyone on this forum lol

          But that was actually my point.

          But yes, me personally – I’m aware.

    • genxperson

      Not so. Even with the latest phones with essentially all bands there are plenty of places where they say there is 4g coverage but there is not even when standing outside with no obstructions beyond trees in distance. Fcc needs to take them to task. Force them to publish the actual signal strength estimates, or at least provide to Fcc. Also get them to publish Bps to the tower as well as dropped packets. All carriers lie as it relates to this.

      • (J²)

        Yes, it is so… unfortunately.

        Again, I’m not going to speak on whether or not the claims against T-Mobile are valid.

        Most phones and devices sold by T-Mobile do not support all bands. So, if you happen to have an iPhone X or any budget Android phone, you will be missing bands that offer additional layers of coverage with the frequently announced upgrades.

        When I switched to T-Mobile, this was in fact the case for my area for those who had an iPhone…