March 13, 2014
T-Mobile is celebrating the one-year anniversary of beginning its 4G LTE rollout with an ambitious plan to repurpose half of its 2G EDGE network this year and complete the other half by mid-2015.
Those customers in slow EDGE markets should start noticing faster speeds on their handsets in the coming months. T-Mobile US Inc. says it will also begin deploying LTE in the 700MHz A-block spectrum it is in the process of acquiring from Verizon Wireless . (See T-Mobile: Going Bananas for Low-Band and T-Mobile Spends $2.4B on Verizon Spectrum.)
T-Mobile's LTE network currently covers 210 million potential customers across 273 markets in the US. It plans to reach 230 million people by mid-year and 250 million by the end of the year.
The self-proclaimed "Uncarrier" also said Thursday that it is launching a new campaign to combat Verizon's "competitive claims" and has ordered a cease and desist against the carrier and its map ads that depict the relative footprint of Verizon and T-Mobile. CEO John Legere said in a statement that the ads "massively understate our coverage and don't begin to represent the actual customer experience on T-Mobile's network."
Why this matters
Even while winning customers over with its pricing shake-ups, T-Mobile has had a hard time shaking the reputation of having a shoddy 2G network outside of city limits. That said, the carrier has turned up most of its LTE network in just six months, moving at an unprecedented speed for the US wireless market. Transitioning those stuck on EDGE to the faster network will be an important step in its network evolution.
It is narrowing the gap on its larger rivals Verizon and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and is racing number-three operator and rumored merger partner Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) on market counts. Sprint currently claims 340 markets.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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