T-Mobile and AT&T argue against FCC plan that would have them drive test their networks

tmobile-coverage-map-aug-2020

T-Mobile this week argued against an FCC program that would have US carriers perform drive tests on their network to confirm their coverage.

In a filing with the FCC, T-Mobile said that drive tests are “extremely expensive and burdensome to conduct”, especially at the scale required to get a significant enough sample of a nationwide cellular network.

“A blanket requirement to perform regular on-the-ground testing will force providers to spend millions of dollars each year on tests, resources that would be better spent investing in our network and deployment in rural America,” T-Mo explained.

AT&T also came out against the FCC’s plans for carriers to drive test their own networks. The big blue carrier argued that the costs would be prohibitive, saying that it estimates that it’d cost $45 million every year to test 25% of the square kilometers of its nationwide 4G LTE network. Drive testing 10% of its network would cost up to $18 million per year, AT&T claimed.

“Requiring that all carriers conduct such nationwide drive tests, especially on a regular basis, is simply too costly especially at a time when investment in 5G deployment is a top national priority,” AT&T said in its filing.

This situation began last year when an FCC report said that US carriers had overstated their rural coverage. The FCC said it was unable to get an LTE signal on T-Mobile for 21% of its drive tests despite T-Mo reporting it had coverage in the area, and that T-Mobile’s network achieved the minimum download speeds predicted by coverage maps 63% of the time. Verizon and US Cellular had similar issues in the FCC report.

None of the carriers faced any punishment from the FCC following the report. However, last month the FCC submitted a plan as part of the Broadband DATA Act that would require US carriers to verify the accuracy of their coverage maps by performing on-the-ground tests.

The FCC says that these tests would include downlink, uplink, latency, and signal strength measurements. It would be required that the tests would be performed outdoors and they would include both mobile and stationary tests.

Via: Ars Technica
Sources: T-Mobile (FCC), AT&T (FCC)

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  • Joe

    Yeah I agree with the carriers on this. However there are other options like perhaps allowing for people that want to opt in to use there GPS and connection data to get this information.

    • Mike

      All carriers should have a proper coverage map. There is no excuse for showing coverage where there is none, that’s false advertising. The FCC should fine them for that.

    • Mike

      Ookla speed test does that now

      • Joe

        No it does not. If you have no coverage where t-mobile says you do according to there map there is no recording in Ookla

        • Mike

          Well ookla.will show were Tmobile has no coverage on there map. They can do an overlay.

  • Acdc1a

    This would be fairly easy to crowd source. Give users a small incentive to allow location information and network information to be shared. Piece of cake.

    The FCC and carriers should work together to make something happen. I agree with the carriers that if they had to pay employees to do it it could be cumbersome and expensive.

    • Francisco Peña

      and who would control that shared data? How would you guarantee that its not sold moreso than data is now?

      No thanks.

      • marque2

        They already have and get the data.

      • SirStephenH

        Crowd sourced data tend to have personally identifiable information anonymized so it wouldn’t matter if the data is sold.

    • weidnerj

      Not a bad idea – surprised that diagnostic data from user phones isn’t already doing this.

      But can see why the FCC wants this. I know of an area on the T-mobile map for a mile says it has coverage when it doesn’t, and when I asked T-mobile about it, then know about it but they don’t want to admit they have a coverage area on their network or document it on their map.

      • Mike

        I called in a trouble ticket multiple times for slow internet, and a got a call from Tmobile after a week, saying “we know the issue but no plans in the works to fix it” I swear it’s likes hearing ATT in the old days. Tmobile is not un carrier any more.

    • marque2

      There already is ookla and rootmetrics. They should just buy the data from them.

    • Mike

      Well they have tower crews now that go to sites, so those people would be the ones to correctly identify problems. They could monitor the towers signals.

    • SirStephenH

      All the verified coverage on T-Mobile’s maps is crowd sourced.

  • mikeZo6

    Only way to keep Tmo honest and hold them accountable ! I’m sure they can come up with less expensive way.

    • Shaun Michalak

      T-Mobile?? Did you miss the comment “Verizon and US Cellular had similar issues in the FCC report.” or are you just purposely picking on T-Mobile like they are the only one?? In fact, the original report even stated AT&T with about the same amount of problems too

      “The FCC conducted drive tests of T-Mobile, Verizon, and U.S.
      Cellular’s networks and found that they only achieved the minimum
      download speeds predicted by those carriers’ coverage maps 62.3% of the
      time. T-Mobile specifically achieved that speed in 63.2% of tests,
      Verizon in 64.3% of tests, and U.S. Cellular just 45.0% of tests.

      According to the report, FCC staff was unable to get any 4G LTE
      signal from T-Mobile for 21.3% of the drive tests, despite T-Mobile
      reporting that it had coverage in the area. The FCC couldn’t find a
      Verizon LTE signal in 16.2% of its drive tests, while the U.S. Cellular
      network failed to produce an LTE signal in 38% of the FCC’s drive tests.”

      • Mike

        Guess they all got caught. Now maybe they can fix there coverage maps. I go on Boost to see a more proper Tmobile coverage map.

        • Shaun Michalak

          Nope.. Not all.. AT&T mysteriously was the only company not named for expanding their networks, so they are the only one that was never tested.. This is not to say that they are legit, just that they were not checked.. I would guess that AT&T had something to do with the reporting of the others when you consider that at the time, they had nothing to lose by doing so.. Not only that, but lets be honest.. They even checked US Cellular, which is a fraction of the size of AT&T, and still, the tiny carrier was checked, but not AT&T??

          either way, now it is coming back and biting them in the butt too because if it goes through, they are going to be forced to do it too.

        • Mike

          Oh yes, good old ATT, haha, I had them along time ago, they did me wrong so I left for Tmobile. But ATT somehow won to get first net, so they better show there maps properly because it does deal with first responders. Of course that might be why FCC didn’t check them? That would be hard to tell first responders that a coverage map is off. Could you imagine all the complaints then.

        • Shaun Michalak

          I think the biggest reason that AT&T won the contract was mainly due to limited competition.. Just think, back when they won it, which was something like 3 years ago, T-Mobile was still doing dramatic expansions of their coverage.. Sprint and US Cellular did not have enough coverage to even be considered.. So that only left Verizon as a competitor with the coverage and ability to compete.. Verizon backs off, and that really only left one company..

          I used to be with Cell One.. AT&T bought them out.. A relative of ours did not have the money to pay the months bill at the time, so my mom called up to see about paying the bill.. When she told them that she wanted to pay the bill, they were offering to give her any info about the account that she wanted.. They asked for no passwords, SS numbers, or anything else.. the only info she ended up having to give them was his phone number.. So when AT&T bought out cell one, we did not like what they were doing, and left them immediately because of it..

        • Mike

          I had cell one also before ATT came in, but that was before they bought Cingular. I remember having free calling after 7pm, but that is when ATT came in and said free calling starts at 9pm now. I argued with them so much, but in the end I switched to Tmobile because of just 2 hours, so ATT is the greediest company around. Look what they have done with direct tv, raised prices of course. Government has allowed them to become a huge entity again, and consumers suffer.

        • Shaun Michalak

          I remember that time.. I got my first cell phone back in the 90’s.. I think about 98 if I remember right.. So much has changed in those 20 years.. Back then, doctors mainly had pagers, not too many people had cell phones outside of people that needed them.. and if you wanted to make a call, people still relied on POTS system for that.. Now, people go crazy if they do not have a phone with them 99% of the time, and is able to use it that whole time too.. I would love to see what people would do if they had to go back to that..

          Oh yea, and if you wanted to make a call.. Get the good old telephone book out and look the number up.. No speed dialing or looking things up on the net.. and if you wanted to take a picture, get the camera out.. I think it would be hilarious watching people that are addicted to cell phones have to go back to that, even for a short time like a week.. Heck, I have seen how crazy people went around here just because the power went out for a half hour.. The phone would be soo much worse..

    • Mike

      All they need to do is fix there maps. I actually went on Boost mobile site to see a more accurate Tmobile network, there 5g map actually shows more proper signal.

  • Sharti24

    Just raise our rates and add new fees to help pay for this!

    Kidding…

  • DominiMMIV

    I already map via Cellmapper, for a small credit on my account I’ll just leave it on and add Open Signal as well. Do this for people all over the country with $ as an incentive. Problem solved!

    • SirStephenH

      I was thinking they could do something like that with employees. It would probably be easier and more reliable than letting anyone do it and they’d get similar results.

  • Disqusion

    I am on FCC side on this! It would be great to be able to impose speed test too! I am getting 1-1.5 Mbps speed in most places here in the Bay Area. Is that an LTE speed? I hope 5G won’t be just 5 Mbps?

    • Mike

      5g could be that bad with 1 million cell phones on tmobiles
      network. I’m currently getting the same speeds you are 1meg download and upload is horrible .06. I called a ticket in to complain of slow speed, after a week Tmobile called me back to say “nothing is going to be done to fix any issue” This just reminded me how un carrier Tmobile ain’t been lately.

    • steveb944

      Sounds like you need new hardware. No reason it should be that slow.

      • Disqusion

        We all have the last Gen iPhone XRs, xs and latest SE.

        • Joe

          This is not a coverage problem. It’s a congestion problem, there are just too many people for the amount of bandwidth t-mobile has in that area. The only solution is more small cells and towers or for them to acquire more spectrum in the region.

        • Shaun Michalak

          and that is just it.. Since they are putting the Sprint customers on the T-Mobile network, they have not installed Sprints band 25 on their network to make up for it.. This will really help in rural areas where Sprint never had any service installed in the first place.. Then add in band 41 as they get it installed too.. All this will dramatically help their congestion problems.. The real bad thing is the fact that it is going to take years to correct all of this, and get it all installed / converted over..

        • Mike

          They have the spectrum, but for some reason they are slow to make changes, they act like there network was great from the start.

        • SirStephenH

          iPhones have had notoriously worse reception than most Androids. They typically do fine with CDMA (2g and 3g on Verizon and Sprint) but not with GSM (2g and 3g on T-Mobile and AT&T) and LTE (all networks).

  • Shaun Michalak

    I hate to say it, but I agree with the companies.. If they said to do a sample once every 5 years of something, then that “might” be a little more realistic to get it done.. But lets be honest.. To do this right, they would have to go up and down every single road, in every state across the country to do this.. Add in they want “moving” and “non moving” tests done.. That adds in even more time.. They would basically wear out a vehicle just driving it around to do the tests, with the number of miles they would have to cover. And even then, it would not stay accurate.. The use constantly changes, from things like people working at home, to time of day, etc.. Then add in when they upgrade towers and add or take frequency off..

    • Mike

      They could possibly set up the Google maps car to monitor cell bands while it drives on all the roads to take pictures.

      • SirStephenH

        The USPS services every single address in America, 6 days a week. I think it’d be the logical choice, if not then UPS or FedEx which still service most but not all addresses.

    • marque2

      The phone companies get billions of samples every day. There are plenty of ways they can get the data just with the users they have with anonymous metadata.

      And they should be doing this. The only reason it might cost them is when they are forced to provide accurate coverage maps and people leave for a other carriers when they realize how poor the coverage really is.

    • Mike

      They know what the maps should show, but they all lile to show inflated unreal coverage maps. I go to boost too see tmobile more real coverage.

      • Shaun Michalak

        I love it when you go to a company, like say Verizon, and look at their map that they will show on the front page.. They make it look like states are fully filled in.. If there is a 20 mile area with no coverage, that map on the front page shows that they have full coverage there.. T-Mobile does inflate their maps, but Verizon is the worst at this from what I have seen.. Of course, when you go to their actual map, things are drastically different..

        • Mike

          So true, I laugh because all the carriers make you zoom into the maps so far just to see more appropriate coverage. I even complained to Verizon about there map. Tmobile u have to zoom in so far that you can barely tell on the map where you are. Either way they know what the coverage is, they probably have programs they tweak that displays coverage. To me FCC should tell them put the proper zoomed map up to begin with.

        • Shaun Michalak

          The thing I hate is the fact that they include “partner coverage” in their maps, and you have to really zoom in to see where that partner coverage is.. You should be able to just click a button to show only the companies personal coverage, and not have to zoom in to see that it is a partner.. This is especially needed if you plan on traveling, and you get limited or no data on the partner network..

        • Mike

          Well that would make there maps look worse. You would see all these holes. As Tmobile builds out I’m not sure who they use as partners anymore, besides in Alaska.

        • Shaun Michalak

          They still have AT&T that they jump off of.. Just not that much coverage is through them any more.. The thing is, T-Mobile has built out so much that there is not that much coverage any more that AT&T has, that they do not.. There is a little, but just a tiny fraction of what it used to be..

          But I agree.. That would make them look worse.. But then again, if any of the companies put down accurate maps, then it would make all of them look worse..

  • JG

    TMo says they should be using the cash to upgrade their networks… OK, but if they don’t test their network and know where the problems are, how are they going to know where the network needs improving?

    There’s a small one stop light everyone lives on Main Street type of town near here. TMo’s website says I should have good coverage, it was even verified by an actual user. Every time I drive through, though, its a total dead zone (voice & data) for me.

    If they rely on their coverage map, nothing will be done about it. If they drive through it, they might see the problem.

    That said, though, why do we need each carrier to do this? Would it not be possible for the FCC to send a car out themselves? Pai drives, Starks navigates, O’Rielly holds a T-Mo tester, Carr has the AT&T tester, and Rosenworcel has the Verizon signal tester. The five dive around the US testing the cellular bands, see how they cover the US. The carriers could each pay a third of the cost. It could potentially provide a more realistic coverage map as the carriers wouldn’t know where the car is so they couldn’t “accidentally” boost the signal in that area…

    Or maybe develop an app that us consumers could run on our phones. Have it record the signal strength as we go about our daily lives. Then you get a little more long term data. Maybe an extra site here or there could be helpful especially during rush hour…

    • Mike

      Tmobile has horrible signal in nw Florida. I called in a trouble ticket many times for slow internet speed. I got a call back today saying that Tmobile has no plans to fix it’s signal or speed of interenet..right from there engineers notes. So how in the world will anything improve. I had to share that ATT and Verizon had things covered better.

      • steveb944

        No single network will be best everywhere. You have to choose according to your needs. Plus try new hardware.

        • Mike

          Well there signal level is just fine, they just don’t want to fix a congestion problem with the tower. Ever since they put all the Sprint customers on the same tower. Never heard an engineer say they are not going to fix an issue? Guess this is the new Tmobile, back to being a regular carrier.

    • Depends on your phone. Newer phone can access the new network. Tmobile just updated coverage in a area where i live that was spotty I was surprised. Also try restarting your phone in rural areas or airplane mode. Sometime they don’t switch towers accurately.

    • Shaun Michalak

      I think a lot of them know where their problem spots are.., With T-Mobile, I think it is more that they are trying to cover as much space as possible, fast, which leads to low signal areas in the middle of the towers.. I think that they know that it is there, but are trying to install a good amount of coverage, and because of that, are ignoring a lot of those small dead zones for now, and will come back later to fill them in as they get a chance, and after they see how the coverage is being filled in, or not..

      Just think.. If T-Mobile customers jump off of AT&T, then they get charged for every bit of use on those towers.. Because of that, there is no way that they can not find out where people are jumping off of other companies towers.. But then they have a choice.. Do they go fill in that small 1 mile area to make better coverage there, or do they go install a new tower that will add 10 miles of service in a radius around that tower, for overall more coverage?? It is not like they are AT&T or Verizon, that has built out their network for the last 25 years.. T-Mobile has built out most of their coverage over the past 5 years, not 25..

      • Mike

        True on build out. Verizon built out properly because of 700mhz band, while Tmobile build out with 1900 and 2100 mhz..now Tmobile is sitting better to put up 2.5 gig but the problem is they are going to have more dead zones between towers since they are spaced for 1900 and 2100. The only way around that is to use directional antennas, but that will leave dead zones too. The only band they can use is 600 mhz to fill in those holes..2.5 won’t do it unless they put up more towers.

        • Shaun Michalak

          The same could be said for all the companies.. AT&T is using something like 3 ghz for their main speeds right now, and to give good coverage, you need lower frequencies, not higher.. So in that aspect, T-mobile is in a better place with their 2.5gh range then AT&T at their 3ghz range.. The other problem is the fact that you are talking about their “original” build-out, not their current one.. The one before they got any 700mhz.. and the problem with that is, that only accounts for something like 10% coverage, vs their current 60 something percent coverage.. That additional 50% coverage was built out with the idea of, “more coverage with less towers”.. In fact, that was there slogan at that time..

    • Mike

      Ive complained to there engineer department, so they told me they have no plans to fix or upgrade things to improve data speed. I’m in northwest Florida. Tower congestion is horrible ever since putting all the Sprint customers on the network. Sprint customers are probably pissed since they knew there previous network.

  • rosedawg

    DO IT!!!

  • Mike

    Wow, to actually read something that makes sense. These companies should quit whinning and do what is asked. People deserve a proper coverage map, and that really goes to Tmobile who has had shady maps before. These companies should stand by there coverage maps and quit writhing how signal is effected by things. They should be proud. Why didn’t the fcc fine Tmobile if there map was off that bad?

    • Shaun Michalak

      If you are going to talk about how bad things are, then maybe you should start with US Cellular.. because their maps were off by about twice as much as T-Mobiles was..

  • dcmanryan

    Having been with all 4 carriers over the last 10 years and currently with T-Mobile and Verizon (work) I can say without any doubt that all 4 carriers over exagerate their coverage and more often than not flat out lie. I’m all for forcing them to prove their coverage as people switch carriers often based on coverage. If anything this should have been implemented years ago.

    • slybacon

      I agree with you. But I was in Jackson Hole last weekend and T-Mobile greatly matched or exceeded their coverage maps all over the region, even having LTE in Hoeback Junction, when their maps said 2G/3G and Verizon having no service there at all. Verizon has a lot of no service places in that area when T-Mobile did. And Tmo seems to match their maps pretty well throughout Utah.

      • WONDROUS5000

        im glad to hear that about jackson. visited during a camping trip to tetons recently and can’t wait to return.

        • slybacon

          We didn’t do too much in the Tetons, but Phelps lake had good coverage, from the parking lot, up the trail and to jump rock. Wilson, Jackson, Hoeback, all good. It’s such a cool place to explore.

      • dcmanryan

        I’m actually in Utah Slybacon and disagree. I live in Utah County and work all over doing. There’s places in Lindon just east of Home Depot that averages about 1 Mbps if you’re lucky. Drive down I-15 to Saint George and do a speed test anywhere on the freeway south of Nephi and you’ll be lucky to send an email in some spots. T-Mobile works great when it works, but I swear it’s all or nothing. If you’re north of the point of the mountain I agree the service is pretty good. There’s also some dead spots north of Cabela’s on the east side of the freeway. I good go on and on. There’s many poor services areas in Utah County yet it shows 5g/4g excellent on the maps.

        • slybacon

          Oh, yeah, I mostly stay north of Utah County. Haha. You’re talking speeds, I was simply talking coverage. But I have friends in Lehi and Eagle Mtn and things have been okay there. But I have driven to So. Utah and has a signal the whole time. Not sure about speeds, but coverage maps are accurate.
          I also have a work line on my phone with Verizon and I couldn’t get data to work in a movie theater in Centerville and Layton. I just found too many dead areas with Verizon, so I leave my iPhone set to use T-Mobile data all the time.

        • dcmanryan

          In my experience coverage and speed are on in the same. From Nephi south on I-15 I had mad kids that couldn’t watch a thing even though they still had a signal. This was last November so hopefully that’s changed. I’ve also had far more problems with T-Mobile working in buildings than Verizon but have had trouble with both. I do commercial HVAC so go in many buildings and have had trouble with both carriers but far more with T-Mobile but it continues to improve. At least they’re constantly upgrading.

  • Marcelo_L

    Rural?

    They think this is needed in just rural areas?

    I have a personal cell spot despite living in a suburban area of a major metropolitan city.

    I’ve repeatedly asked TMO when they’re going to improve coverage in my area…

    Crickets.

    Sadly ATT , Verizon’s coverage sucks worse.

    • Sharti24

      Where at?

    • WONDROUS5000

      how is wifi-calling not a solution to this?

      • Mike

        Wi-Fi calling is there excuse for crappy coverage. I don’t pay a bill just so I wifi call, it don’t make sense, plus I feel I’m getting ripped off. I want all calls on there network.

    • Mike

      I’ve asked also about signals and bandwidth on a tower. I get 1 meg download with .6 upload and Tmobile told me they have no plans to fix or even update things. That info came right from there engineers. So apparently congested towers is a thing if the future. So all the hype of 5g is useless.

      • Shaun Michalak

        It makes me wonder if they told you that just to get you to back off of the topic?? Do not get me wrong, but maybe they just do not know when they will be getting to your tower, etc.. If you think about it, saying they have no plans, in a way to say we will do nothing with that tower, is like saying we will never update it past what is on there now.. Maybe it is just that they have no idea when they will be getting into your area to do anything, which is why they say no plans.. Right now, they may not, but that does not mean that it will not be put on a list 6 months from now..

        I know a LOT of their towers really needed updates.. In my area, on Metro, when they first did the updates here, I was almost always getting over 10 megs down.. Now, I am getting 3 megs at times, 10 megs other times.. so I would guess on average, about 5 megs down.. I went over to Ashtabula the other day, and when I tried to get on their tower, I had to try multiple times to do a speed test.. It was that bad.. Before the merger, I had no problem with getting a data connection over there.. So it is not just your area..

        • Mike

          From what I see on the coverage map lately is more interstate highways are covered with signal, so they made a effort to cover the roads, now the areas in between is obviously another story. I live near I-10 we’re they just updated one tower to 5g, thing is that tower only serves the highway. Other towers serving the city have not been touched. So the strategy they are using seems to be just filling in dead areas. But I think they didn’t think that old towers would become congested..even with all the Sprint customers.

        • Shaun Michalak

          To a point, I would say you are right.. I think part of it comes to the fact that T-Mobile, until Legere came along , was content being in last place, with no real goals to accomplish.. They were a company that made a profit, and stayed in business, and that was good enough.. They had a small customer base, so they did not worry too much about congestion.. and for that reason, was not too interested in getting more spectrum to increase it either.. The fact that they did not do anything at the 700mhz auctions should prove that one.. Now, they have the same limited resources, but busted out into a big company with all the expansions and stuff.. Problem is, their network was still set up to accommodate a small company.. and there lies the problem..

  • SirStephenH

    1) The carriers are correct, testing their entire networks every year themselves would be cost prohibitive. There are ways to reduce these costs though.
    A) There is no need to test frequently. All they really need is one full test drive of their networks and then only check areas where network changes have been made, where major construction has happened, or where users are complaining about inaccurate coverage information.
    B) Doing a specific test drive themselves is ridiculous.
    I) There are Google Street View cars hitting up every single road in America, most on a somewhat yearly basis that could provide yearly data.
    II) USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc run delivery vehicles nearly every day all over the nation (among them only the USPS services every single address in America so it would be the logical choice). Equipping delivery fleets with testing equipment would provide DAILY nationwide testing.
    III) They have tower workers traveling all over the nation that could be testing during the workday. They tend to do limited testing after completed work anyways.
    IV) They could create a voluntary program for employees where they get paid for running an app on their phones.

    2) There is definitely an issue that needs to be fixed but everything is somewhat blown out of proportion. Fixing the maps isn’t going to fix all the complaints because most people don’t understand everything involved that can affect reception and the accuracy of coverage maps.
    A) Carriers like T-Mobile already include crowd sourced data in their maps. The verified coverage on T-Mobile’s map is based on crowd sourced data. The problem is that there’s no way to do drill down to street level. What may be a perfect signal for one person may not be for someone a quarter of a mile or even a few dozen feet away.
    B) Many people unrealistically expect coverage maps to be accurate down to the foot which is impossible even with nationwide test drives. I don’t know how many times I’ve read people complaining about inaccurate maps when they say it only affects them in one small location surrounded by good or great coverage.
    C) Many complaints are from people using older devices which don’t have all the technology required to fully utilize the networks. They unrealistically expect their devices to have access to the entire coverage area even when they’re missing things like band 71 support.
    D) Not all devices have good reception. iPhones have had notoriously worse reception on GSM and LTE than most Androids and of course not all Androids are all that great either.

    • Shaun Michalak

      “There are Google Street View cars hitting up every single road in America”

      Inaccurate.. There is a LOT of rural roads that Google does not go down..

      I completely agree with the “not having all the bands” comment.. I have seen major differences in coverage in areas with, and without band 71.. Not to mention that a lot of phones that are unlocked do not support band 71 to begin with, even though the T-Mobile version of that same phone does.. But to get even worse, what about people still using a 3G phone.. that is even worse..

      I love the idea of using USPS to do the testing.. This would actually do a double fix.. First, since USPS is talking about a budget sortfall, this is an easy way that they could come up with some money to balance the budget from the loss of letters during COVID.. as they say, 2 birds with one stone..

      The real problem runs into your “do it once” comment.. Since T-Mobile is in the beginnings stages of the major transition from the merger, nothing is going to stay the same for very long as they convert things over, and add more spectrum to the towers.. For a company that is not changing things much, this is a possibility.. But not for T-Mobile at this time.. Give them a couple of years to get things settled first, or else they will have to do it again just about every year..

      This also will not fix the “speed” and bandwidth problem.. Only adding more will fix that, and if they do not have enough, there really is not too much that they can do about it.. You can only use what you got..

      • SirStephenH

        The thing about my “do it once” comment is that I said it should then be updated when there’s network improvements, major construction in the area, or when there’s complaints about inaccurate coverage maps. I also didn’t really make it clear but I didn’t leave out the possibility of future rechecks, although they wouldn’t really be necessary if the maps were updated when my suggested criteria were met.

        • Shaun Michalak

          I understand that.. My point was the fact that they are going to be installing so much more coverage from all the sprint towers.. Coverage and speeds are going to change as the install band 41 on all the towers.. and finish installing band 71 on them too.. It would not surprise me that in one year, coverage and speeds (which were supposed to be tested too) changed on 25% of their network, or more.. and that is just going with the Sprint merger and finishing what they already started.. Add in any new towers that they put up, and that will make things very hectic over the next couple of years..

          Now with AT&T and Verizon, what you said would not make too much of a difference past the first round of testing.. Because they are limited on how much they are expanding in coverage, or adding frequency for speeds.. I was just pointing out that T-Mobile has too much going on, that by the end of a year, a significant amount of their coverage and speeds can and will change.. So even if it is only a little there and there, it still adds up to the same amount that has to be rechecked by the end of the year.

        • Mike

          I read spec sheets on some new phones, most just have b41 and b71 for 5g, most the phones are missing millimeter wave bands. So with them rolling out phones like that, we are not going to see mmW any time soon, maybe just select cities. The s20 has more bands, but the price of that is way wrong. I also read on phone specs that some devices may not function properly for tethering on 5g. So, now I wonder how long they are going to keep LTE going for tethering. So now I think that hotspots and devices will stay LTE for tethering.

        • Shaun Michalak

          I do not expect to see much in mmWave on cell’s for a while.. Especially considering the added cost to put it on, vs the limited availability of it.. As long as people get decent speeds on the towers, I really doubt that many people really care about mmWave, other then home internet use..

          I have not looked into it much, but it makes me wonder how many of the unlocked phones support b71 too?? The last time I looked, there was almost none that did.. I remember when they first came out with it, Amazon came out with an unlocked phone.. Same exact model as what T-Mobile was selling.. The T-Mobile version had b71 available on it, but the amazon version did not.. and I do not think I have seen a China brand phone with b71 on it to date.. One that was not a T-Mobile branded one that is.. and this is just for 4G, not 5G..

    • Mike

      great points on all of what you said, signals can be different by each user that is correct to. But at some point coverage maps should be a very rough indication of where signal is. Carriers will be quick to point out issues based off of signal map if you have issues. I have T-Mobile tell me it’s a signal issue when I have full bars on the phone they won’t tell me it’s just an issue with the tower being congested cuz that makes them look bad. The FCC should enforce some type of standards of signal maps. Most carriers when they put the cell towers up initially they knew what coverage is going to be, but maybe they didn’t plan for population expansion, or building expansion. The issue I have with maps is when they use the color but use different shades of the same color. I called out Tmobile before by them using pink as a color and then using light pink for another indicator. Maps that use same colors like that are to hard to read unless you zoom in so far and by that time you can’t tell where on the map you are. Verizon’s 5g map is horrible to try on a cell phone. TMobiles map is a little better. ATT actually is good.

  • Shaun Michalak

    I think if I was T-Mobile, I would just knock off 1 mile radius of coverage on all of their rural towers.. Better to have better then advertised, then not at all.. and doing that would dramatically lower their “non coverage” area numbers to probably more like 5%..

  • purenupe1

    It doesn’t have to cost as much as they claim… they could easily ask for current customer input and create an app that uses the GPS to ask the user how was service in an area the phone has visited based on the GPS data.

    The app could also prompt for input only in areas less frequently visted.

  • Glenn Gore

    The FCC could use the Cellmapper website as a good place to start in measuring the carriers’ actual coverage compared to their maps. Cellmapper users have been running the app while driving around for years and have produced a map with a pretty good picture of actual coverage. Yes, it is not totally accurate, but I would submit that it is far more accurate than the coverage maps any carrier shows. Myself, I have driven hundreds of mileson US and state highways as well as county highways and dirt roads across the northwest quarter of Oklahoma while running Cellmapper and recording Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile coverage over the past several years, and the results have pretty much aligned with the carriers’ maps, but in much greater detail.

    • Shaun Michalak

      I like cell mapper too.. Someone mentioned RootMetrics.. I checked out their site/app just messing around.. I like that it lets you speed test where you are at.. But other then that, I just do not think that it is that well known, and because of it, they do not get the tracking updates like CellMapper does.. For example, there is a small town call Kane, PA.. They put up a tower there at least 1 1/2 years ago (that was the first time it was seen through cellmapper).. RootMetrics has no info of this new tower that was put up.. I have found numerous towers and areas with the same results.. Towers either put up for new coverage, or updated for better coverage..

      I think it comes down to the fact that each has their own thing.. places where they are better.. I have seen better tracking on the Rootmetrics app that was more updated in some places, and cellmapper on others.. I think they are good to use together, and check them both.. either way, both have the same flaw of only being as good as the info that they get.. Which is definitely much better then relying on cell companies maps..

  • James Symmonds

    I get what the companies are saying but they definitely need to be more realistic on their maps. The T-Mobile map is a complete fabrication in a lot of areas out west. The real winner is getting out to the Olympic Peninsula in Tmo’s own home state and connecting to Canada instead of one of their towers…. in a fair sized town. Or driving across Kansas or Wyoming and suddenly be told you ran out of roaming data when the maps show you shouldn’t have been roaming at all.

    • Shaun Michalak

      I would have to agree in some places.. There are places that T-Mobiles coverage map is really accurate.. But in a lot of rural areas, it really sucks..

      Going up route 27, from Pleasantville, PA all the way up to Garland, PA, T-Mobile claims that they have service.. as they put it, “fair” coverage.. That is a 20 to 25 mile stretch of road.. No coverage on any of it..

      Take 426 and onto 6, from Corry PA to Warren PA, and there is another 20+ mile stretch of road with no coverage, but T-Mobile has it listed as “Fair” coverage through most of it..

      • Jason Caprio

        Exactly. T-Mobile’s coverage map is a joke. “Fair” coverage = NO coverage. So I referenced your locations listed with Rootmetrics coverage map, and it reflects your experience almost exactly. Verizon has the best signal on your roads listed, and T-Mobile has little to none. Of course the T-Mobile sheep will try to claim that Verizon pays Rootmetrics off to make them look good, where in reality, actual experience reflects their results.

        • Shaun Michalak

          As for Rootmetrics.. Well, they are only as good as the info that they get.. which is from what I see, greatly lacking.. There are places on the rootmetrics site that say that T-Mobile had no service there, and I can tell you from first hand experience that they do have coverage there.. I found other places that they say that 2/3G is the only coverage that T-Mobile has there, and I can guarantee you that they have 4G service there..

          Let me give you an example.. Kane, PA.. T-Mobile only installed 4G (maybe 5G since they have band 71 installed there) in that area.. They do not have, nor have they ever had 2 or 3G service there.. According to Rootmetrics, they only have 2/3G service there, with no 4G.. Hazel Hurst, PA.. Rootmetrics, no coverage at all.. Actuality, they have great coverage there.. Pierpont, OH.. According to Rootmetrics, by the breaking up of the dots it is saying poor service.. Actuality, they have great coverage there.. There is a tower right where route 7 and 167 come together..

          I would say you have that half right.. If T-mobile’s coverage map says fair, and it is at the outside edge of their coverage, then I say that there is about a 95% chance of no coverage.. But if you are in the middle, or better side of the fair area, you have about a 50% chance of coverage..

    • K B

      Verizon had that one guy that tested coverage – he had the black hair and glasses. I think he was later hired by Sprint. T- Mobile should use him

      • James Symmonds

        Can’t decide if you’re joking or for real. :)))))

      • Shaun Michalak

        Nope.. He left Verizon because he got to a spot where they could not hear him, and they left him hanging.., Thank goodness Sprint went by and saw him waiting there and helped him out..

  • Jason Caprio

    RootMetrics already does this, and does it well. so I think the FCC and them should come up with a partnership. My actual experience with Verizon and T-Mobile is reflected perfectly with their results. Anybody who says otherwise, is being lied to. T-Mobile is so against it because it would decimate their over-exaggerated coverage maps.

    • Deadeye37

      Exactly what I was thinking. If RootMetrics is already doing this, either the FCC should give them money, or require that T-mobile & AT&T give money to RootMetrics. I’m sure Verizion is already giving them money since they do the tests for Verizon (or so it seems). They would just have to make sure the payments are equal and that there is no bias.

      • Shaun Michalak

        My only problem with that is.. Just how often does RootMetrics do these tests?? or should I say, just how updated is the info?? For example, I noticed a tower put up in Kane, PA back in March, 2018.. Who knows how long it was up before that.. In any case, that was 1 1/2 years ago.. Rootmetrics still does not have anything about this tower that has been up for at least 1 1/2 years.. The same, as in Rootmetrics has no data on the tower being up, for the new towers in Hazel Hurst, PA, Pierpont, OH, or the upgrades to other towers like down in Cambridge Springs, PA..

        My point is, data is only as good as how often it is checked.. RootMetrics has the same flaws as others, like CellMapper..The companies can upgrade all the towers that they want, but if no one comes through and tracks that area, then that makes it useless.. The simple fact that I mentioned a tower that has been up for at least 1 1/2 years and no tracking has been done on it through Rootmetrics should prove that..

        • Deadeye37

          Well, if AT&T and T-Mobile both start dumping money into the company to provide this service, they could establish an SLA where RootMetrics would have to increase their frequency of testing/updating and would have the funds to be able to do this.

        • Shaun Michalak

          The question is, do they even test anything themselves to start off with?? From what i can find, they are like cell mapper and only get info from people who run their app on their cells.. people like me and you.. I can not find anything to state anything else.

  • Nate

    These Cell companies should partner up with Google and the street view crew and record the data from the areas that Google is already driving in. It would then be a chance for Google to cover some of the costs for getting out in the rural areas and would seem like a win, win for all.

    • Shaun Michalak

      Nope, it is a win lose for the cell companies.. Win for google, lose for the cell companies.. Since most rural roads google does not go down.. Only actual state routes.. Most places would lose out on the checking of coverage that you need to make the requirements.. Google maps only does highly used areas, like in cities, or main roads.. Go off that beaten path, like roads that are still dirt roads, and they do not do them much, if at all..

  • Shaun Michalak

    I personally do not like verizon.. But I will not tell someone to not go to them because what they did to me, was to me.. and the way I look at it, if everyone stopped going to everyone that someone did not like, or had a problem with, no one would be going anywhere.. As long as the customer is happy with what they get, that is all that matters..