T-Mobile Deploys 700MHz, Starts Data Rollover

Along with T-Mobile's "Uncarrier 8.0" announcement of Data Stash, which lets customers roll over unused data megabytes, the carrier has also shared a number of significant network updates: one, it's started deploying 700MHz, which it sees as its most important network upgrade; two, it now covers 260 million PoPs with LTE; and, three, it will finish adding 4G its 2G network sites in 2015.

The network updates builds on T-Mobile US Inc. 's announcement yesterday that it has 26 markets live with wideband LTE. Now the uncarrier adds that it has covered an additional 10 million PoPs, or potential customers, with LTE in the past two months, bringing its total to 260 million PoPs and beating its projection of 250 million by the end of the year. T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said it will cover 300 million by the end of 2015, a number that under-represents what it will accomplish in geographical expansion. (See T-Mobile Lights Up 27 Wideband LTE Cities .)

"We want to put to bed any gaps between us and the other guys out there," Ray said. "Coverage improvements are tremendous, but we're not everywhere yet. We keep pushing; we keep deploying. We're moving very quickly, and more coverage is coming."

More importantly for those customers who still can't get coverage outside of major urban areas -- a concern that was raised several times during the call with media -- T-Mobile has also begun deploying LTE on its 700MHz spectrum holdings. The service is now live in Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Minneapolis and Washington DC. (See T-Mobile Expands VoLTE, Gets Going with 700MHz 4G and T-Mobile: Going Bananas for Low-Band .)

"If we take the big markets just launched, customers there with band 12 capable handsets -- there are five devices already this year -- will see a significant improvement in building coverage as well as the reach, how far our network goes into rural and suburban areas," Ray added.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere also slipped in his interview with Yahoo Tech's David Pogue that T-Mobile would add LTE to all its 2G cell towers in 2015, echoing comments he made earlier this year. (See T-Mobile Repurposes 2G to Get an LTE Edge.)

[Update: Story updated to reflect that T-Mobile is adding 4G to its 2G towers, rather than refarming its 2G network, and plans to support both networks going forward.]

For more on T-Mobile's uncarrier initiatives, peruse the dedicated mobile content channel here on Light Reading.

T-Mobile says all of these network upgrades have enabled it to make its plethora of uncarrier moves, culminating in today's announcement of Data Stash. Beginning at the first of the year, T-Mobile will let customers with Simple Choice data buckets -- 85% of its customer base, Legere says -- rollover any unused data for up to a year. At the outset, it's also offering new and existing customers 10GB to pad their data bank.

The CEO claims that $1.5 billion this year alone was collected by AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and Verizon Wireless for overages and penalties. On the flip-side, T-Mobile CMO Mike Seivert said that industry data suggests average customers leave about 3GB of data unused each month, giving the operators $50 billion of value in leftover data. The pair likened it to the gas stationing siphoning off unused gas each month or the grocery store clearing out your pantry.

"The way it's run right now, it's a scare tactic guessing game," Legere said. "What other industry do you have to decide ahead of time how much you need then you're penalized either way?"

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

KBode 12/17/2014 | 1:52:35 PM
Re: who needs rollover? There's just a countless number of people who aren't very technically savvy but have phones, and just want them to work. I'd imagine at least half couldn't tell you what a gigabyte is if you asked, making it hard for them to understand carrier plans -- which are quite often unintentionally complicated. I write about this sector for a living and I often don't understand what the hell I'm looking at when new plans get released sometimes. :)
danielcawrey 12/17/2014 | 12:42:10 PM
Re: who needs rollover? It's too bad people don't pay more attention to their monthly data useage. I used to think that for me this would be a wildly variable number, but turns out it is not. I use about the same every month, and I am sure most people are in the same boat. Why they don't adjust their data plan accordingly is beyond me. 
sarahthomas1011 12/16/2014 | 12:58:08 PM
who needs rollover? This seems like a pretty good, catch-free deal to me, but I guess the big question is, if a person has 3GB of data leftover to rollover, why do they need the rollover? If you're going over every month anyway, you won't have anything except the intial 10GB from T-Mobile, which won't last all that long.

At any rate, it's a smart move from T-Mobile and another one that looks like a huge change without it actually having to lower prices.
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