Blog Post

T-Mobile completes iPhone-friendly upgrade in 23 cities

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

T-Mobile on Thursday officially activated its overhauled HSPA+ systems in five more regions of the country, including the greater Chicago area, bringing it that much closer to fielding a nationwide network that can fully support Apple’s iPhone(s appl).

Today’s launch in Chicago; Reno, Nev.; Fresno and Sacramento, Calif.; and the region surrounding Los Angeles (though not in LA itself) – coupled with activations on Monday in Atlanta, Seattle and Minneapolis – bring its total upgraded footprint to 23 markets covering more than 100 million people. While T-Mobile doesn’t sell the device yet, customers with unlocked iPhones can use them on the carrier’s network. But only in areas where the upgrade is complete will they get anything beyond a 2G connection.

Though in the rest of country the network officially hasn’t seen the upgrade – which will move a portion of T-Mo’s HSPA+ network to the 1900 MHz PCS band – customers with unlocked iPhones have reported seeing HSPA+ signals from New York to LA, cities where their Apple devices would normally be restricted to pokey 2G speeds. Right up to its launch this week, Chicago was a hotbed of signal sightings so T-Mobile obviously has many more markets in the works.

T-Mobile is rushing to complete its network reconfiguration for a number of reasons. Not only will it be fully compatible with the iPhone’s 2G and 3G radios when it starts selling the device next year, but the sooner it relocates HSPA+ to the PCS band, the sooner it can start building its new LTE network.

11 Responses to “T-Mobile completes iPhone-friendly upgrade in 23 cities”

  1. I’ve had T-Mobile for around 6 years and was really loyal to them…which is why I never left them to get an iphone. Finally, I caved and got an unlocked iphone 5 directly from Apple as soon as it became available. Brought it to the T-Mobile store to have it set up, etc – the workers convinced me to get the $49.99/mo plan that would give me unlimited everything, but would put me back on contract for 2 years. I mentioned I wanted to make sure it worked first, and they told me it works great in the NYC area. This is what I had read online as well, so having no reason not to (even though a small part of me wanted to stay off contract for a little longer to be sure), I went with it.

    Well, for the two days I’ve had my iphone up and running on T-Mobile in Manhattan, I’ve only been getting Edge speeds for data. Speedtest measured it at .03mpbs download speed. An hour after having it, with no high speed, I went back to the store that set it up (located by WTC in lower Manhattan) and they said perhaps the issue is that it takes two hours to kick in, or that that particular area wasn’t good for the iphone to get reception…huh?
    I took my iphone home, where I still only received Edge. After a few more hours, I did the online chat with T-Mobile support. Gave them the whole story, and they took my exact address at that moment and said ‘Oh yes, I see 34 other complaints in that area. I’ll open another ticket for you.’ I asked what I was supposed to do – just wait? Was it something they needed to fix? Would it be days/weeks/what? The reply was to call support in 72 hours. Ugh.
    Yesterday, for work, I had to spend time in three different areas of Manhattan. In each area, same story – Edge. While walking/cabbing, I saw the 3G come up here and there, and service drop altogether here and there.
    This is totally unacceptable. It’s not like these news reports are saying you’ll get slow speed on the iphone with TMO – I’ve been following all of this. I wouldn’t bring a ridiculously expensive phone to my TMO if I saw reports of it not working or with slow data speeds – which is what I’ve been reading prior to the last month or so…and why I waited!
    Today I called TMO support, asked to be released from that contract because I felt scammed, and was told that something is clearly wrong, that I should talk to a tech support person.
    Tech guy seemed okay, said I should definitely be getting faster speeds, and ‘opened a ticket.’ Again.
    I asked if it could be the device, since they’re making me feel like I’m an anomaly, that I’m the only one just getting Edge. The guy said the phone has the right band, the right settings, etc…suggested I also take it to the Apple store for them to run a diagnostic. We’ll see what happens there…

    BUT, the reason for my long comment – if you’re thinking of bringing your expensive factory unlocked iphone 5 to T-Mobile, perhaps you shouldn’t! Go with straight-talk or simple mobile and save yourself the headaches.

    I’ll comment again if anything gets resoved, but at this point, I really do feel like I got scammed by trusting a company that was previously good to me…
    If anyone has had the same experience (or the opposite experience) here in NYC, I’d be interested in hearing about it.

  2. My guess is that most people “complaining” about their phone on T-Mobile’s network only getting 2G/EDGE speeds is because they are likely using an unlocked AT&T phone! My recommendation would be to go out and get a T-Mobile “Branded-4G” phone and then test their network’s speed or be patient and wait for the re-farming of their 1900mhz spectrum to support 3G/4G HSPA+ in this band!

    • Well said Ken. Its funny to see how selfish people are when its their own fault and not T-Mobile’s that they bought an unlocked phone that does not carry the correct band for 3g/4g on T-Mobiles network. They should appreciate that T-Mobile has invested money to help them get a small try at how much faster it could be had they shopped correctly the first time. Glad I waited though since it was announced T-Mobile has joined with Apple to sell its products in 2013. Great low price in plans and great devices.

  3. Michael W. Perry

    Since I live in Seattle, this is good news. But the really good news I’d like to hear is that T-Moble has worked out an arrangement to unlocked any carrier’s post-contract GSM phones. Jail breaking plus unlocking has too many downsides for many people.

    • Kevin Fitchard

      Hi Michael,

      T-Mobile can’t technically unlock another carriers iPhone (well they could but…). Your original carrier has to do it. AT&T is already doing this if you’re out of contract. Verizon and Sprint are a different story.

  4. What a sham… IF you also happen to be south of the line between Santa Ana and Newport all the way to Mexico ( theirs only 20,000,000 odd of us that includes most of Orange county, Camp Pendleton AND San Diego) we get that hot and fast 2G data speed… Also known as ‘talk to the hand’…..

    This upgrade is A SHAM !!!!!

  5. Silly announcement . I dont know why t-mobile says its network is ready for 1900 0r 3g ? while many announced cities still didn’t get 3g ? 95% still on Edge. I have been with t-mobile for while but now i am about to go to att or Verizon since i dont get 3G at my home, school or work on my factory unlocked iphone 5. If i dont get 3g in my area in next two weeks, I am gone. actually i live in riverside, ca, it is not small city it is the 59th most populous city in the United States and 12th most populous city in California and the population is more than 300,000.