T-Mobile US is not afraid of rocking the boat or shaking the apple tree; it’s Uncarrier moves to offer customers a better deal have been extended to the business offerings and it has aggressively rolled out its 4G LTE network across the country. Indeed, the business has worked hard to modernize its network and as a part of this process, it is shutting down the 1700 MHz and 2100 MHz 3G HSPA network across the country in order to “refarm the spectrum.” In other words, this part of T-Mobile’s frequency and spectrum range is going to be re-used for higher performance, higher capacity networks: LTE. T-Mobile US have been planning this move for some time and are offering a free upgrade to those customers now finding that they have an incompatible device. Customers can enquire about this by going into a T-Mobile store or calling 611 from their cell phone. It’s important to note that T-Mobile’s changes do not impact the 1900 MHz coverage and many modern devices have this technology built in, but if you are using one of the devices detailed at the bottom of this post you may want to consider an upgrade.
Firstly, the areas that are going to be having having their 1700 / 2100 MHz 3G LTE networks shut down over the summer include Houston on July 15, Los Angeles on July 22, Albuquerque, El Paso on July 25 and Oklahoma City, Savannah (Jacksonville), Baton Rouge (Mobile), Columbus (Atlanta), Griffin (Atlanta), Charleston (Carolina) all on July 27. Kansas City, Roanoke (Virginia) on August 3, St. Louis on August 5, Nogales (Phoenix), Madera (Sacramento), Boise City (SLC), Del Rio & Kingsville (Austin) on August 10, Miami, Laredo (Austin) and Biloxi, Hattiesburg (Mobile), Anniston, AL (Birmingham) on August 20
Now, if you have an LTE-capable T-Mobile device, it’s likely that these network changes will not make any difference to how you use your device. You’ll still be able to connect to T-Mobile’s 1900 MHz 3G coverage, but we’d expect most of your smartphone use to involve T-Mobile’s LTE network. However, if customers need to upgrade then T-Mobile is offering a free upgrade to a selected device, or if none of these devices are to your liking they are offering a $100 discount on an alternative providing you upgrade with the EIP, Equipment Installation Plan. If you’re using an Android device on the list, the Alcatel OneTouch Pop Astra ought to be available as a free upgrade, or if you’re using an Android tablet you may be able to get the Alcatel OneTouch Pop 7. BlackBerry customers will be able to upgrade to the BlackBerry Classic for free. T-Mobile customers with the old Hotspot should be able to upgrade to the T-Mobile 4G LTE HotSpot Z915 and signal booster customers can get the 4G LTE signal booster. In the days before the HSPA network shut down, customers should receive a text message from T-Mobile US stating: “Due to network upgrades, you may need a new phone by [date] to use 4G data speeds. You can receive a free LTE Device from T-Mobile. Call 611.”
In the medium term, T-Mobile US will build out LTE networks to replace the old HSPA networks and this will mean better coverage and better opportunities for carrier aggregation, which will in turn could mean higher performance LTE networking technologies.