T-Mobile pushes LTE to the outskirts of 4 cities

T-Mobile’s 4G network may not have the geographical reach of Verizon’s, but T-Mobile has started taking the first steps to get there. In conjunction with its big rollover data announcement on Tuesday, T-Mobile revealed that its new LTE network on the 700 MHz band is now live in and outside of Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C.

[company]T-Mobile[/company] has offered LTE services in those cities since 2013, but by tapping into new 700 MHz frequencies it bought from Verizon, it’s been able to create a higher-coverage, better-performing network. T-Mobile’s main LTE network is up in the 1700 MHz/2100 MHz band, but lower bands can propagate further, letting signals punch through walls and travel further in suburban and rural areas.

The big knock on T-Mobile is that its coverage has always been so poor compared to [company]AT&T[/company] and [company]Verizon[/company]. That’s a comparison T-Mobile wants to nullify as this new network gets rolled out, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in a call with media Tuesday.

“I can’t tell you the exact month, but I can tell you that we won’t stop until we have a complete network,” Legere said.

CTO Neville Ray said that T-Mobile is using the spectrum to build an overlay in metro areas as well as expand the edges of its 4G coverage much further outside of cities than it has in the past. For example, in Washington, D.C., T-Mobile has used 700 MHz to go well beyond the Beltway, expanding into western suburbs and even outlying rural areas. Ray estimated that the upgrade has increased T-Mo’s LTE coverage by 30 to 40 percent in the D.C. region alone.

Today T-Mobile’s LTE systems cover 260 million people, but the 700 MHz upgrade will put 300 million people under its 4G umbrella. Most of that will be accomplished by bringing mobile broadband to the regions between cities it’s typically served only with 2G networks, Ray added.

Ray also said that T-Mobile’s new higher-capacity wideband LTE network is now available in 121 cities, including the newly launched New York City network. Wideband LTE T-Mobile increases 4G speeds and capacity by 50 percent in most cases, and in some cities it’s doubling bandwidth.

Bit by bit Verizon starts selling off 4G spectrum

Verizon has begun selling off its extra 700 MHz licenses per its agreement with the FCC to give up spare 4G spectrum in exchange for the cableco airwaves. So far there’s been no blockbuster sale, though and AT&T has yet to make a move.