T-Mobile has long been the underdog, the ugly step child, the black sheep of the cellular world. Their coverage isn’t all that great outside of cities and speeds are pretty lackluster too. An acquisition with AT&T was supposed to change that. Thankfully it fell through. But now T-Mobile is facing what to do moving forward. Their 3 biggest competitors either already have a robust LTE network in place (Verizon) or are in the beginning stages of rollout (Sprint).
Stop wishing, T-Mobile users, and start preparing. The carrier just released their Q4 financial results. And while the ~800,000 subscriber net loss is a tough pill to swallow, the diamond in the rough is that in 2013 T-Mobile will officially begin rollout out their own LTE network.
Now before you get too excited, looking over at your VZW friends’ ~15-30 Mbps downloads, we have to stress T-Mobile’s network will be a tad different. For starters, T-Mobile is going to move (refarm) their current 3G network off of the 1700 MHz AWS band and onto their 1900 MHz band. The LTE network will then go on top of the 1700 MHz AWS band. Also affecting potential speed and capacity is the fact that T-Mobile’s AWS band is currently only being used with 5 MHz wide channels. (Read: speeds won’t come close to VZW or AT&T’s LTE speeds.) Finally, the 1700 MHz AWS band isn’t the best frequency for long distances or penetrating buildings. Verizon and AT&T’s use of 700 MHz spectrum, however, is great at it, which in part helps the carriers to deploy fewer towers, saving on overall costs.
While the cons list is pretty high at the moment, having LTE, even slightly slower LTE, is better than not having it at all. Then there is of course a potential for Dish Network to team up with T-Mobile. Mind you, Dish has their own 40 MHz of spectrum int he 2 GHz band that they’d love to put to use, too. For now, T-Mobile is remaining quiet on when we might actually see the LTE airwaves start lighting up. But 2013 isn’t that far away, now is it?