T-Mobile Expands Coverage & Retail Footprint In Chicago

Hot on the heels of the news that the "un-carrier" won big at the most recent spectrum auction, T-Mobile has now begun bringing some big changes to its network, starting with Chicago. In addition to planned expansion to the number of retail locations for both T-Mobile and MetroPCS by 43 stores, the company is enabling better urban penetration and range for their network in the area. That improvement mostly comes down to the company enabling its Extended Range LTE technology in Chicago. Unfortunately, not all users will have access to the new features since not every phone supports it. For T-Mobile, the enhancement will only be noticed by customers with devices supporting LTE band 12. Other devices will continue to work with the carrier as before, but they will not have access to the improved experience.

The current changes are being brought in using the very latest in T-Mobile's small-cell network capabilities, in addition to making use of the company's latest spectrum purchases. The signal should now be able to travel twice as far and perform up to four times better inside buildings, at least on paper. Chicago-based customers and those in the cities surrounding areas are among the first to have access to those technologies. According to the provider's VP of Engineering for T-Mobile's Central Region, Jennifer Silveira, the improvements are arriving in "record time" and "just a few months" after the airwaves were acquired. More enhancements are also on the way for other areas of the network too, Silveira says. Those are said to include 256-QAM, three carrier aggregation, and 4x4 MIMO technologies.

Back to main portion of today's announcement and T-Mobile estimates that 350 jobs will be created in the area to support both the retail locations and the new network. New stores will be located in Cook, DuPage, and the collar counties to help fill out some of the newly-available network capacity, though no exact locations have been provided as of yet. According to T-Mobile CTO, Neville Ray, the company will now be serving the "top 10 largest U.S. cities" with Extended LTE. Ray also said that T-Mobile is "just getting started" and will  begin"lighting up 600 MHz LTE later this year."

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