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T-Mobile Catches Sprint in covering 280M People with LTE

May 14, 2015 - Written By Alexander Maxham

T-Mobile was the last carrier to start rolling out LTE. As most of us probably know. They were busy rolling out their HSPA+ network, which is actually the fastest HSPA+ network in the US. Seeing as AT&T caps at HSPA+ 21 and T-Mobile does HSPA+ 42. There was actually talk of them doing HSPA+ 81, but they decided to jump on the LTE bandwagon instead. T-Mobile only just started deploying LTE in late 2012, with the Nexus 4 actually being the first, unofficial, Android device to run on their LTE network.

Today, T-Mobile announced that they have caught up with Sprint, and they both cover 280 million people, or as carriers like to say “280 million POPs”. T-Mobile had planned to reach the goal by the end of June, and well they beat that goal. Which is always nice to see. The goal is still to hit 300 million POPs by the end of 2015. And Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s CTO, stated that would bring competition into more areas of the US. As T-Mobile plans to expand its retail reach, however, that may not happen until next year. No promises were made on the retail side.

Ray also stated that the company has been working furiously to deploy their 700MHz spectrum. That spectrum covers about 190 million POPs, and they have cleared or have contracts to clear about 140 million POPs on that band. T-Mobile has already deployed the 700MHz band or band 12 in cities like Dallas; Detroit; Houston; Philadelphia; Tampa, Fla; and San Antonio, Texas. With plenty more to come. This LTE expansion, obviously, is a huge incremental opportunity for T-Mobile. As the most important part of that spectrum is the building-penetration. Since it is under 1GHz, it will better penetrate walls compared to the 1900MHz, or even the 2500MHz that Sprint is deploying.

T-Mobile is looking to shut down MetroPCS CDMA network this year. Ray says that less than 300,000 people are still on that network. T-Mobile has already refarmed about 80% of MetroPCS spectrum into their network. MetroPCS CDMA network still needs to be shut down in three key markets which include New York City, Dallas and Miami. T-Mobile also has 15×15 MHZ LTE deployments in 150 markets already, with that number expected to hit 200 by the end of the year. The big deal with adding 15×15 MHz is that there is more space, more bandwidth. So that as T-Mobile adds more and more customers, you won’t see a big drop in speeds.