Feb 23 AT 10:07 AM Taylor Wimberly 64 Comments

T-Mobile to launch LTE in 2013, with AT&T’s cash and spectrum


T-Mobile had no clear path to 4G LTE. That was a common argument that AT&T made when they launched their bid to acquire T-Mobile. Then the deal fell apart and AT&T was forced to pay T-Mobile a $4 billion breakup fee and hand over some unused AWS spectrum.

Now in an ironic twist, T-Mobile has announced they will refarm the additional spectrum received from AT&T for their own 4G LTE network they hope to launch in 2013. T-Mobile will also invest a total of $4 billion into network modernization and LTE deployment, which includes installing new equipment at 37,000 cell sites.

For awhile AT&T was claiming they would get T-Mobile’s spectrum one way or another, and now they are funding T-Mobile’s LTE network as a result of termination of the failed acquisition.

“Today, we operate America’s Largest 4G Network delivering a fast and reliable 4G data experience with HSPA+,” said Neville Ray, chief technology officer, T-Mobile USA. “Launching LTE next year lets us take advantage of technology infrastructure advancements and benefit from a more mature LTE device ecosystem while continuing to meet the growing demand for data with a powerful 4G experience.”

Since T-Mobile is late to the LTE game, they will actually be the first carrier in North America to modernize its 4G network with new antenna integrated radios on many of its cell towers, which will strengthen coverage and deliver higher performance.

T-Mobile expects to reach broad deployment of LTE in 2013, with service in the majority of the top 50 markets and 20 MHz service in 75 percent of the top 25 markets.

It almost sounds too good to be true for T-Mobile customers, but all these plans are still awaiting regulatory approval of spectrum transfer from the AT&T breakup. T-Mobile also says they still need more AWS spectrum to complete a deeper LTE build-out.

I switched to Verizon in 2011 because T-Mobile lacked LTE and the premium devices I wanted, but if T-Mobile actually launches their new network by 2013 then maybe I’ll consider a return when my contract expires.

If you are a current T-Mobile customer, is this news good enough to keep your business?

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • Clone Clooney

    T-Mobile just trolled the hell out of AT&T and did it the best way possible.
    Thank goodness all that money is going towards costumer satisfaction of a faster network.

    5 / 5 stars, T-Mobile. You’ve made me proud to stay with you and not jump ship to Sprint.

    - Damnit forgot to login >:|

    • LukeT32

      And everyone thought they were going to take the money and run. : )

    • jonathan3579

      It doesn’t take much to troll AT&T or the iPhone. ;)

    • Jeff Pan

      I love T-Mobile. They have got decent Phones + Super cheap plans

  • Max.Steel

    Better late than never, eh?

    • xallies

      Tmobile may be late in the LTE department, but they have the largest 4G network and Fastest. So late to what exactly is your point?

      • mike

        Largest and fastest? What country do you live in???

        • clocinnorcal

          I have Tmobile. And in my area, Northern California, HSPA+ (Tmo 4G) is faster than anything else available. I have put it up to other friends androids, who have Sprint, Verizon, and ATT, in downloading matches on the market and tmobile always wins by a decent margin. Granted the only other network with 4G in my area is ATT and it too is HSPA+ and Tmobiles network is probably underutilized. But still, that just proves that Tmobile has a very capable network.

    • Me

      This isn’t the first time they were late to.something, they were also late to the 3G game.


    as a tmobile user.. i am very exited by the news.. Now all they have to do is bring better devices and we are all set.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Looks like HTC One S and LG Optimus 4X are good starts for 2012.

      • http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=583695634&ref=profile Rahul Singh

        HTC one S and LG Optimus 4X is an awesome start! 2 quad core high end phones. I can’t wish for anything better. I haven’t updated my phone since Galaxy S Vibrant now is the time and I am super excited!

        • Wunako

          the One 2 is a dual core, but im still going to have hope that the HTC One X does come to TMobile!, if not it will come down to the One S or G4X

      • jonathan3579

        Even if they miss out on devices, this opens up the ability for imported phones to be compatible!!! :) This isn’t just good news for us T-Mobile users; it’s GREAT news!

      • BiGMERF

        I reserve judgment until confirmed.been let down to much.lol

    • revs

      htc amaze not good enough ?
      galaxy 2?
      dnt get much better bro
      unlocked nexus ?

    • WlfHart

      Hoping MWC brings us just that!

    • muk

      I couldn’t agree with you more!!!! I’m extremely disappointed that they didn’t get the nexus or note.

  • Andrea Cristiano Maietta

    This is gonna be great they will build out the LTE on compatible spectrum to AT&T’s network and as they keep hemorrhaging subscribers, they will eventually close up shop and AT&T will buy all the spectrum already built out by tmobile lol awesome

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Nice conspiracy theory lol. I like it.

    • UMA Fan

      If you look at the financials, T-Mobile was the ONLY profitable national US wireless carrier in Q4. The ONLY thing they really need to focus on is to stop customers from leaving.

  • Jorge Vieira

    I really like TMobile.

  • haz

    Just switched to verizon. I. Feel. So. Stupid.

  • http://www.healthytiger.com Healthy

    I’m still on T-mo with an imported galaxy nexus.

    maybe i’m crazy, but HSPA+ speeds (pentaband too) without the battery drain of an extra radio is pretty damn awesome. I certainly have some jealous verizon gnex buddies who have to opt for the extended battery. (of course i’m also jealous that my t-mo signal doesn’t reach everywhere in my work building.)

    hopefully the new radio thing improves coverage for non LTE too.

    • BruceCLin

      I have the same setup as you. At no time I’ve said to myself that this HSPA+ is too slow. My battery life with AOKP/franco is insane. On top of that, I am paying about $50 less than my buddies on Verizon.

      • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

        That’s the thing I love most about T-Mobile. HSPA+ is awesome for battery life and you don’t have to take out a second mortgage on your house just to pay for a data plan. I’ve been a T-Mobile customer for nearly 8 years now and I’ll probably stick with them for another 2-3 to see how their LTE coverage plays out.

  • rantmo

    That is freaking awesome on so many levels. I’ve had great experiences on T-Mobile but was really worried about their future but this sort of infrastructure investment really gives me confidence about their continuing existence. As long as this doesn’t cause a price increase, I’ll stick around indefinitely.

  • Deeds

    Glad that T-Mo finally realized that HSPA+ is not the way to go. I will definitely be staying with them when my contract expires.

    • yankeesusa

      I think they know hspa+ was just temporary. They knew lte was the way to go but with hspa+ they kept people happy. Heck, tmobile is twice as fast as sprint here in my town. Only other company thats better is verizon with their lte speeds of 8mbps to 22mbps on good days.

    • Skapheles

      The nice thing is they can let the other carriers deal with the hiccups of new technology while T-Mo still offers similar speeds on HSPA+ and then in a year they can swoop in and build a newer better faster less flawed LTE network that’s ahead of everyone else.

      • Deeds

        Especially Verizon, their network goes down A LOT

  • Taggard Andrews

    So a co-worker came over to my desk to show me his new Verizon Galaxy Nexus with LTE (I bought my GSM Galaxy Nexus for $850 back in November and have been using it with the $30/month T-Mobile WalMart plan). We do a quick speed test, and here are the results:

    Verizon Galaxy Nexus/Verizon/4G LTE – Ping: 149ms, Download: 5Mbps, Upload 6Mbps
    GSM Galaxy Nexus/T-Mobile/”4G” HSPA+ – Ping 149ms, Download: 4.9Mbps, Upload 2Mbps

    I have to say that I am quite pleased with the results. I pay about a third of what he does for monthly service, and the results are not that far off! To hear that T-Mobile will further improve their infrastructure is music to my ears!

  • orginn


  • spazby

    great strategy tmobile, now get some money from verizon and sprint, keep repeating and soon you will rule the world

  • yankeesusa

    Its good to see them using the extra money to expand and improve the current network. If sprint raises their prices or switches to tiered data and its not much different in pricing from other companies I will seriously think of switching to tmobile, as long as they keep their prices competitive. If in the end all companies are about the same price then I will choose verizon.

  • revs

    HSPA 42 IS FINE!
    i get 12-15 average and have hit 20 before

    wtf t mobile
    bettery work on batteries before this shit rolls out

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      The latest mobile processors, like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4, have the LTE modem already integrated. This saves a lot on battery life.

      • revs

        good to know ..i dnt understand why everyphone dnt come with the razr max type battery ‘

        i picked up some anker 2000mah battery for my amaze and it works great get about 3 more hours a day

        • revs

          and it was ab 15$ on amazon lol


    By the time tmo roles out lte i am sure there will be enough advancement that battery should not be to big an issue. Of course there is always the option of turning off lte and taking back on there fast enough hspa. Not bad if you ask me

  • Jason

    Does this mean tht tmobile can acquire the iphone now…I cnt stand adroid or windows phones plz let the iphone come to us

    • Noriega713

      Just go to another company if you want it that bad…

    • Me

      phuck the iphoney crap.

  • Skapheles

    This will be great if they can also keep the plans and rates they currently offer.

  • n25philly

    Just hurry up and get 3g working on the 1900 band so I can get more than 150kbps on my note

  • Glenn Yudenfriend

    T-MOBILE does not need the IPhone,3 other carriers you can choose from

  • tonis79

    I’m a long time TMobile customer, have an imported GNex…the funny thing is TMobile thinks they are losing customers because of the iPhone…it’s because none of the phones they are releasing are impressive at all. When your customers have to import phones to get the latest and greatest, something is wrong. LTE won’t help that fact, only better phones with exclusivity will.

    • muk

      That’s right!!!

  • AnthonyRyan

    I love the way T-Mobile is waiting to deploy there LTE and now with the AWS Spectrum and 1900mhz also T-Mobile has big things coming for them this year and next year. So glad im with Tmo and plan to stay with them for some time ! Keep the great work and your new plans I hope to hear good news like this from you throughout the year

  • VS

    Excellent news, well played by Tmo. I’m glad that their European parent company decided to take the $4 billion break up fee and invest it back into their American business (I suspect they quietly either couldnt find another offer from a competitor or Sat / Cable company or just didnt want to deal with the hassel of another proposed merger & review).

    In either case, this works out well time wise as I was planning on skipping 2012 to see how the Qualcomm / Nvida race turned out. Cell phones usually lag the actual deployment of LTE (around 2-4 months from past history roughly) network itself, so should give Tmo time to bolster their mobile offerings.

    I was afraid that the $30 Wal-Mart / Tmo Online plan was just a stopgap measure, but with this news, it inspires confidence that they will continue to be aggressive in the value / prepaid side of the business and now serious in postpaid. Cheers!

  • cb2000a

    Perfect timing! Use HSPA+ until LTE is perfected then switch. By then the battery issues will be resolved. With this and wifi calling with cheap plans why would I go anywhere else?

  • honourbound68

    Dayum, I just switched to verizon too. But here’s a quick question.. Does TMo throttle after 2gb?

    • BiGMERF

      woudnt it be sweet if throttling meant going fro lte back to 3g hspa.. instead of edge? tmo would have a win there

    • UMA Fan

      You get to choose which tier you get throttled at on T-Mobile. The cheapest data plan throttles at 2GB in a given month and they have tiers available all the way up to 10GB.

  • Nathan D.

    Yes T-Mobile, nicely done making at&t help fund your LTE expansion, well I’m all for it since by the time it start they will already have a good lte service that isn’t to bad with beast phones to boot.

  • dre day

    i pay $25 a month for unlimited everything and have a Sensation 4G with Android 4.0…I dont need LTE to stay hooked. T-Mobile is the best deal in the business. I have full, fast HSPA+ everywhere in NYC.

  • Marcofromda510

    As a t-mobile customer, I am happy to see them revamping their plans with a “Back in Business” mentality. I have the MyTouch 4G and was already looking forward to the One X, but this just sweetens the deal, plus my plan is already grand fathered in, I must say being patient is paying off. Glad I waited for the dust to settle instead of jumping ship.

  • Roamdeus

    this just cleared my head of doubt …. I just recently signed 2 year contract with t mobile . I knew I was working wit the right provider

  • bigrob029

    yup, ill definitely stay with tmobile… if good news keeps coming out ill reup for 2 years on my next phone come upgrade time.

  • redman618

    From a long time AT&T customer….
    You are welcome T-mobile customers. Please let me know what it feels like to not be data throttled. Also make room for one more because here I come in a year and a half after AT&T has taken all my blood from me!!

  • jsweetser2

    Maybe in late 2013 when they have LTE AAAAAND a decent phone to use, i’ll go back. Right now I have both of those things when i switched to Verizon two months ago.

  • Jay

    My contract with T-Mo ends on March 26. I’ve been looking at all my options and even after hearing this news the options haven’t really changed. I don’t think I’ll be sticking around with T-Mo. I can upgrade to the SGS II or Amaze 4G right now if I wanted to but they’re not worth it with the Galaxy Note on AT&T already out there and the HTC One X looming and threatening to come out around April. Not to mention the fact that AT&T already has LTE. As well as Verizon. Speaking of Verizon my 2 choices are between AT&T and Verizon. Sprint isn’t even an option, they’re below staying with T-Mobile as a matter of fact. No phones on Sprint, I always hear bad things about their service, and they have the worst 4G out of every carrier; T-Mo’s HSPA+42 is just as fast if not faster than Sprint’s WiMAX. The HTC One S was a good announcement by T-Mo and all but it’s disappointing…no micro SD slot and non-removable battery mean no deal. I’m digging the Snapdragon S4 CPU though, thank god they have that instead of the power hungry and unnecessary Tegra 2. Same for AT&T’s HTC One X variant, I’m so glad it’s using S4 instead of T3 because of S4′s power efficiency. Good thing T3 couldn’t use LTE for AT&T and S4 has it built in…

    The main deal breaker for T-Mo is their lack of an upgrade policy after a year. That’s a complete no no. I’ve been wanting to upgrade my phone so long in these 2 years and I’m not going to go through that again, I will take my time and make the best decision possible. On ALL THE OTHER CARRIERS you can upgrade your phone after ONE YEAR…Sprint, Verizon and AT&T all let you do that…on T-Mo you can’t. Seriously what kind of bull**** is that? Even if T-Mo gets the G4X by LG which is a device I’d stay for and actually pass up the Galaxy Note or HTC One X over it’s still not worth it because of the lack of being able to upgrade after a year. Not that the G4X would get really outdated in a year but everyone loves having the latest tech and I’m damn well included in that…and why pass up a carrier that has it? Why would you want to pass up something better? That’s just downright illogical!

    My choices are down to either AT&T or Verizon. Both have LTE so that’s good. AT&T has a slight advantage of being GSM but I trust Verizon’s network way more in general so that gives Verizon a bit of an advantage. However I am not a fan of Verizon’s current lineup of phones so that is where AT&T gets a huge advantage and takes a big lead. Not only does AT&T currently have the Galaxy Note which BLOWS away VZW’s entire lineup but they’re also getting the HTC One X in the spring. I’m not a fan of no SD card or non-removable battery at all but for a phone like the HTC One X I can look past that. The prices are about the same and I can afford both so that’s not an issue. Haven’t heard of VZW getting any phone that will be better than the GNote or OneX so that doesn’t help them.

    I’d like to go to VZW because of their better rep about network reliability and performance but every network has their problems or people talking about bad experiences. My dad has an iphone 4 and my uncle has an HTC Inspire 4G on AT&T and their service isn’t bad so that helps my decision.

    When March 26 rolls around it’s going to be a hard decision on AT&T between the Galaxy Note or HTC One X. I’m digging that Snapdragon S4 in the One X but the lack of a micro SD slot and removable battery give the GNote a chance to win…plus the 5.3″ 720p screen on the GNote, it’s huge! That’s what she said! Can’t resist that screen plus the 2500mah battery and SD slot and removable battery. Those might be enough to take the older Snapdragon S3 over the newer S4 in the One X…it’s going to be a tough decision. Started off with HTC with the G1 and then the Nexus One and then the MyTouch 4G but then Samsung won me over with the Nexus S…going to be hard now to choose which one to go with. I think I’ll probably pick the HTC One X.

    • eric

      why don’t you write us a thesis while your at it?

  • jus

    See something positive came out of this messy divorce after all?

    AT&T still has feelings for Carly, and she appreciates it.