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T-Mobile Joins CCA's Rural Roaming Hub

Sarah Thomas
8/27/2015

T-Mobile has joined Sprint and a dozen small wireless operators in the CCA's Data Services Hub for data and voice roaming across rural America, almost a year and half after its launch.

The Competitive Carrier Association (CCA) announced the Data Services Hub with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) as a tier-one partner in March 2014. Fellow CCA member T-Mobile US Inc. was expected to join shortly thereafter as the Hub would give it a relatively easy way to bring coverage to rural America -- where it lacks a strong presence -- through roaming partnerships. (See Sprint Joins Forces With Rural America on LTE and Big Fish in the CCA's Pond.)

T-Mobile has so far sat it out, however, choosing instead to push the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reserve more low-band spectrum for it to bid on in the upcoming auction. (See T-Mobile Puts Low-Band to Work and T-Mobile Takes Spectrum Fight to the People.)


For more on LTE roaming in the USA, visit the dedicated mobile content section
here on Light Reading.


With today's announcement, it appears T-Mobile is looking for other ways to reach rural America. The carrier will work with a dozen other carriers, including Sprint, U.S. Cellular Corp. , C Spire and Nex-Tech Wireless , to provide reciprocal roaming agreements. The Hub, powered by Transaction Network Services (TNS), acts as a clearinghouse to simplify the business and technical requirements for LTE roaming. (See Sprint Adds First 12 LTE Rural Roaming Partners.)

T-Mobile joining the Hub should give rural carriers affordable access to its LTE network to reach outside of their footprints, as well as let T-Mobile expand into rural America on their networks. The Hub provides the point of interconnect, letting the carriers work together even with incompatible LTE spectrum.

"The thought process behind the creation of data access hub was to create the equivalent of a virtual tier one nationwide carrier that would be open to every small carrier joining its capabilities and bringing scope and scale to small carriers," CCA President Steve Berry says. "Everyone has to sell a nationwide product or you won't get people signing up to your network."

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

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DaveZNF
DaveZNF
9/10/2015 | 5:24:37 PM
Re: Poor rural coverage
Yep, had poor to no service many, many miles along that stretch (including limited coverage in Harrisonburg) and ZERO coverage when vacationing in Hot Springs this summer. I did find out after the fact via T-Mobile's Twitter support that I could roam to AT&T in Hot Springs, but that feature was off on my phone as I didn't realize it was provided without additional fee (and I'm not sure what sort of signal or speeds I could have expected anyhow). Long term, the CAA deal sounds good. Short term, we're probably flipping carriers this fall as T-Mobile's marketing doesn't match our experiences or expectations. 
kq4ym
kq4ym
9/10/2015 | 5:06:28 PM
Re: About Time
I wonder if the cooperation may lead not only to better rural service but affordable rates for those folks. But, most likely they'll end up paying high rates for low bandwidth compared to the urban areas would be my guess.
Independ44748
Independ44748
9/1/2015 | 3:22:56 PM
Poor rural coverage
T-Mobile is a dead zone for almost the entire length of I-81 through Virginia, almost 300 miles. The only service is in Harrisonburg.
Ariella
Ariella
8/28/2015 | 6:40:44 PM
Re: Can you hear me now?
@DaveZNf Wow, that predates my T-Mobile experience by quite some time! But we may have overlapped as AOL users.
DaveZNF
DaveZNF
8/28/2015 | 6:01:26 PM
Re: Can you hear me now?
Well, if we're talking the old days... I was a T-Mobile customer for a year or three way back when they were known as Voicestream and Jamie Lee Curtis was the spokesperson. Of course, at that time, we didn't expect the coverage we have/do now. I had the first Sidekick too a million years ago - that was pretty amazing, doing AOL/AIM chat in the car with a keyboard (and not a QWERTY enterprise thing).
Ariella
Ariella
8/28/2015 | 4:19:59 PM
Re: About Time
@DaveZNF I haven't had T-Mobile for years maybe even a decade now. Back then even non-rural area didn't have consistent coverage.
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas
8/27/2015 | 5:21:52 PM
Re: About Time
That's pretty awful, but sounds par for the course. I'm surprised it took T-Mobile so long to join. I think the CCA was surprised too as they kept saying they expected it to get on board soon. It makes it hard to believe all its pleas for special spectrum access when it isn't willing to do easy things to help itself and its customers in the interim. 
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas
8/27/2015 | 5:21:52 PM
Re: About Time
That's pretty awful, but sounds par for the course. I'm surprised it took T-Mobile so long to join. I think the CCA was surprised too as they kept saying they expected it to get on board soon. It makes it hard to believe all its pleas for special spectrum access when it isn't willing to do easy things to help itself and its customers in the interim. 
DaveZNF
DaveZNF
8/27/2015 | 5:17:52 PM
About Time
Having joined T-Mobile nearly two years ago for more "humane" pricing and policies, along with generous overseas benefits, the coverage has been decent but spotty in my suburban area (and getting better). However, rural America is a T-Mobile wasteland. Nearly all of New Mexico outside of ABQ and parts of Santa Fe are dead zones, based on an unexpected week there February 2014. This summer, we went on three little weekend getaways to (1) Virginia Beach from DC metro and had about 45 miles with no coverage en route, (2) Hot Springs, VA with zero coverage while there and maybe 30 miles out, and (3) no coverage for a long while heading into and at Fenwick Island, DE - had to drive into Rehoboth 15 miles away for a signal. It feels like a safety liability and is surely an inconvenience -- would have brought AAA Triptiks had I known and we're contemplating dumping T-Mobile.
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