This summer T-Mobile announced a $4 billion network evolution plan as they prepared to transform their network to offer nationwide LTE service in 2013. One major part of this plan included the launch of 4G HSPA+ service on the 1900 MHz band. This was a significant move because the 1900 MHz band is the same band that AT&T uses for their 4G HSPA+ service.
We have been following this network upgrade because it affects a lot of unlocked phones in the US. Most unlocked Android phones support the 1900 MHz band, but T-Mobile’s existing 4G HSPA+ network operated on 1700/2100 MHz. Previously, we would suggest AT&T for most unlocked phones, but now T-Mobile and their mobile virtual network operators (like Simple Mobile, Straight Talk, Solavei, etc.) are viable options if you live in one of the newly enhanced markets.
T-Mobile has been moving pretty fast and today they announced that 23 metro areas, reaching over 100 million people, now have the enhanced network. This means that unlocked AT&T phones and some global phones can now experience 4G HSPA+ 42 Mbps speeds on T-Mobile’s network. Internal T-Mobile tests of unlocked iPhone 4S devices running over 4G HSPA+ on their 1900 MHz network recorded on average 70% faster download speeds than iPhone 4S devices on AT&T’s network.
Over 95 percent of T-Mobile’s network has been refarmed for 4G HSPA+ on 1900 MHz spectrum but they have not launched HSPA+ service in all those markets yet. T-Mobile plans on refarming its entire 229-city footprint for HSPA+ on 1900 MHz spectrum by mid-2013, so be on the lookout for more announcements coming soon.
New T-Mobile markets with enhanced service include:
- Chicago, including the surrounding areas of: Aurora, Berwyn, Chicago Heights, Cicero, Des Plaines, Downers Grove, Evanston, Evergreen Park, Naperville, Oak Park, Schaumburg, Wilmette and Winnetka.
- Reno, Nev.
- Sacramento, Calif., including the surrounding areas of: Antelope, Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Fair Oaks, Folsom, Loomis, North Highlands, Rancho Cordova, Rio Linda, Rocklin, Roseville, Vacaville and West Sacramento.
- Fresno, Calif.
- Southern Calif., including: Alhambra, Anaheim, Claremont, Culver City, El Monte, Encino, Garden Grove, Granada Hills, Inglewood, Irvine, La Crescenta, Laguna Niguel, Monrovia, Monterey Park, Newport Beach, North Hills, North Hollywood, Paramount, Pasadena, Redlands, Reseda, Rosemead, Santa Ana, San Fernando, San Gabriel, Santa Monica, South El Monte, Temple City, Torrance, Upland, Valley Village, Van Nuys, Westminster and Wilmington.
Existing markets that have received the enhanced network include:
- Atlanta, including the surrounding cities of: Roswell, Alpharetta, Marietta, Covington and Conyers
- Seattle, including the surrounding areas of: Lynwood, Bothell, Mill Creek, Edmonds, Redmond, Kirkland, Woodinville, Bellevue, Issaquah, Sammamish, Kenmore, Mercer Island, North Bend, SeaTac, Burien, Tukwila, Renton, and Lake Stevens
- Minneapolis, including the nearby cities of: St. Paul and St. Cloud
- Phoenix, including Tempe, Scottsdale, Glendale, Peoria, Paradise Valley, Surprise and Ahwatukee
- Mesa, including Chandler and Gilbert
- Tucson, including South Tucson, Marana, and Vail
- Silicon Valley, including Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Santa Clara, San Jose
- Oakland, San Francisco, Stockton, Modesto
- Additional Bay Area cites include: Fairfield, Monterey, Napa, Petaluma, Salinas, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and Vallejo.
- Miami, including Coral Gables and Miami Beach
- Fort Lauderdale, including Hollywood
- Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Washington D.C., Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, the New York metro area, Philadelphia, San Diego