T-Mobile going hard in 2013: $4.7 billion in spending cash, new 4G markets, LTE, and no more discounted devices


T-Mobile has been at the center of a many a headline today. After announcing that they would soon do the unthinkable and carry the iPhone at their stores, it seems that’s only the tip of the iceberg for 2013, which is shaping up to be their biggest year yet.

Lots ‘o money and network upgrades

First up, T-Mobile will be receiving a hefty sum of $4.7 billion from parent company Deutsche Telekom ($3 billion is also promised in both 2014 and 2015). This will help with the rollout of their upcoming LTE network, and in the refarming of their existing 2G network to 3G/4G. Speaking of refarming, Seattle, Minneapolis, and Atlanta are the latest cities to receive some of T-Mo’s network modernizing, bringing the official grand total to 18 markets in the US that have been upgraded.

While the focus of the 2G network upgrade has always been to snatch up existing iPhone users away from AT&T (of which there are supposedly already 1.7 million customers using iPhones on their network), there’s also a plethora of Android devices that will suddenly find themselves compatible on T-Mobile. AT&T exclusives like the HTC One X (or One X+) or even Verizon’s HTC Droid DNA, which works just fine on AT&T’s HSPA network thanks to its global roaming capabilities. T-Mobile’s merger with MetroPCS is also said to clear in 2013, a move that will help gain them even greater network coverage, along with better LTE penetration as well.

Bye, bye Classic

Probably the wildest news in all this is T-Mobile decision to kill off their Classic Plan, moving away from tried-and-true method of carrier subsidized handsets. You know, the way other carriers offer you a heavily discounted smartphone in exchange for a high monthly bill? Before you freak out — this doesn’t mean customers will have to shell out $600-$700 for the latest smartphones. Not upfront anyway. I mean, that would never fly with Americans, no matter how much they’d save in the long run.

Instead, T-Mobile will allow for customers to pay for their handsets in installment payments over the course of their 2-year agreement. These payments — anywhere between $15-$20 a month — would be tacked on top of their low priced monthly plans. This will apparently save customers more at the end of their contract than if they went the traditional route (cheap phone, expensive rates).

Will T-Mobile survive?

As you can see, T-Mobile is doing more than outfitting Carly in black leather, they seem to be offering consumers with a real alternative. I’m excited to see how it all pans out. Anyone planning on sticking it out with T-Mobile a little longer? Any readers out there suddenly seeing T-Mobile as a viable network option for your new Android device? Oh, and if you got some time on your hands, you can watch the full announcement streaming from YouTube below.

[via TMoNews | Telekom | YouTube]

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. I’ve been wanting to try Tmobile, as VZW is just really making me sick. My contract ends this spring, by then we should know more.

  2. Im T-mobipe tech support crying that I’ll have to deal with I-sheep now. *sigh*

    1. Sorry dude. Good luck.

    2. T-Mobile has already been dealing with i-Sheep for years…are you new?

  3. I’ve been giving T-mobile a thought or two after working with pre-paid SIM’s on their sister networks in Eastern Europe….
    It was sooo cheap over there to have a cell phone I was jealous.

  4. works for me

  5. I’ll need to see the implementation, but I absolutely love the concept of moving away from forcefully subsidized phone pricing. On Verizon or AT&T you’re wasting your money if you don’t purchase a new phone every 20-24 months (or at least take a free one with a contract extension). This may be good news for developers too if they adjust the their full-retail phone prices to more reasonable levels that aren’t designed to persuade you toward a contract.

  6. once tmobile will offer the I phone, lte, cheaper rates, and no contracts. The other carriers will have to rethink their strategy!

  7. I wonder what will happen upon renewal time…hmm. This doesnt look good for me

  8. My contract ends with Verizon Feb ’13, where I will returning to T-mo. This is pretty good timing.

  9. I’m getting up to 17.5Mbps download speed with T-Mobile and the Nexus 4. What’s the problem?

    1. It can only get better?

      1. Tell that to Sprint who network switches more times than women change their minds

    2. 24 mbps on my note 2. I want one of my friends to get one on another network just so i can laugh at their bad battery and slower speeds

      1. That’s the kinda stuff that gets you off, Joseph? O_o

        1. He wanted a phone that could F*** and S*** him… No phone does that but the note2s S-pen hole is TIGHT!

        2. No, competition does. XD Though that was a bit below the belt, I’m new to posting

  10. I don’t get why everyone is obsessed with LTE. It’s a huge battery drain currently with very little benefit compared to HSPA+ 42mbps. On Verizon LTE I used to get 15mb/s in Metro Phoenix. With T-Mobile on my Nexus 4, I am getting a mere 11-13mb/s without the battery drain.

    1. Marketing, its as simple as that.

      1. future proof.. HSPA+ has reached its ceiling… LTE is just that, LONG TERM ENHANCEMENT LTE may only get ~15 now but it is CAPABLE of MUCH more and has the ability to do so at low future cost

        1. Actually max theoretical for LTE is about 300 mb/s (the 1gb you hear about is for WIRED not wireless) while HSPA+ is about 600 mb/s once all and all is max. The only reason LTE is big is because VZW put millions of $$ into marketing and such since they didn’t have HSPA+ market. They needed you to think LTE was better, or they’d lose.

          1. have you actually looked into it, the total HSPA+ is better then LTE, i do have to give LTE has better upload, but for download bandwidth, HSPA+ is higher and the upload is not far off at all, maybe a 1 mb/s diff

          2. Yes I have and I was sadly disappointed when t-mobile gave in and decided to go for LTE and drop plans for HSPA+ 84 and upgrading HSPA+ past 42mbps LTE in the long run is just going to be a gimmick but at least they are going to be smart and go with LTE-A instead of current LTE Faster speeds and hopefully better battery life though they could have done just fine with HSPA+ in both regards but the Hype for LTE and the position T-mobile was in, this was probably need based kinda like acquiring the iPhone and apple products. Sure they could do great without either but people will keep whining until its done.

          3. Wasn’t really need based, more of a why not based, part of the AT&T failed buyout was that they had to give t-mobile part of that spectrum so t-mobile landed with a bunch of LTE towers just sitting there. Either way though, they really should stick with HSPA+ cause it is by far better in the long run then LTE, since LTE caps well before HSPA+ does, and you don’t have nearly as much of a battery drain with it,

          4. It was need based upon the fact that the hype was there is simply what I was saying. I wish they would stick with HSPA+ but seeing that go past 42 and into 84mbps zone is probably a dead dream. Battery life will improve across the board eventually after 5 or 6 years there will be some other network tech that needs to be adapted tom for 5g or 6g sakes

          5. A lot of that also has to do with them coming to a point where they need to tailor their network to what the majority of devices were already going to be built with. Not just the iPhone. This would allow T-Mobile to get better deals on devices from OEMs instead of getting them to make devices just for them.

          6. has broader back end and greater bandwidth though too, its not all speed… LTE is better, end of story, HSPA+ is still plenty good but can’t stand next to fully developed LTE

          7. Um…if that were correct like you say then every network wouldn’t be trying their hardest to develop it, and as far as the speeds you talk of that is the begining phase LTE-advanced has a cap of 3.3gb per second HSPA+ has a top end speed of 168mbs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HSPA%2B) that’s a big difference. Battery drain is due to the lack of evolution in battery development.

          8. Battery drain is due to higher power use, period. LTE flat out uses more power, and will use even more once VoLTE is utilized. Phones like the GN2 and Razr HD Maxx will be near necessities once carriers turn VoLTE on due to the battery drain. HSPA+ is well known to be more power efficient, and download speeds are not the issue as this article shows. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_wireless_data_standards) MIMO DC-HSPA+ has a peak cap of about 672Mbps compared to LTE-Advanced’s 1Gbps. These speeds are both far in excess of what anyone currently needs. The trade off with HSPA+ is that LTE allows more users per tower, since HSPA+ requires multiple channels and cells in use simultaneously for each user. LTE therefore would allow more growth without needing more towers. It is telling that with T-Mobile’s strategy they plan on using both: they are continuing to roll out DC-HSPA+ while rolling out LTE next year. What they WILL be getting rid of is 2G, which will provide enough room for both.

          9. I haven’t bothered to dig much into this but it’s nice to see that someone put out a well organized and clearly thought out response with information that at least appears to be factual and believable as opposed to generalized assumptions. Fact of the matter is, if LTE didn’t have clear strategic and financial advantages over HSPA+, T-Mobile wouldn’t be switching to it. Battery drain may be an issue now but that doesn’t mean that it will always be that way. Technology improves.

          10. It has less to do with LTE being better than HSPA+ and more to do with network compatibility with handsets manufacturers are going to be making.

            T-Mobile was also really smart to align their LTE network with at&t’s bands. This way they get better deals with phones that are coming out. A manufacturer making a HSPA+/LTE phone for the rest of the world plus at&t would cut T-Mobile in at a good rate so it could sell more devices.

          11. This is wrong and bad info

          12. so att and tmobile (who already have hspa) and sprint all fell for verizon’s marketing? They didnt realize what they had was better? interesting.

          13. It’s almost always a better and more efficient move to continue to evolve existing technology to its limits than to completely move to something new and unproven. They didn’t so much as fall for marketing however: LTE does have coverage advantages over HSPA+. HSPA+ has the advantage of lower power usage and cost. T-Mobile & AT&T are smart: they will use both. Verizon has problems, as their continuing problems with VoLTE requires them to still use CDMA for voice. This is just as big of a power hog as going full LTE for voice & data. Of course, if Verizon went VoLTE now then there would be nothing stopping Google from offering an LTE-only Nexus 4 since they wouldn’t need to work with Verizon for CDMA anymore….

          14. I agree having HSPA+ and LTE is a nice set up, however thats not what the original post was said. The original post was implying the only reason other carriers are switching to LTE is because of Verizon marketed LTE. Which is just plain silly and makes absolutely no logistical or financial sense what so ever.

          15. It doesn’t matter what the carriers think, it matters what the customer thinks. If the customer believes one thing to be true and start following it, then the other companies have to go with it too. And that is the whole problem with society including apple related information. We’d probably have a lot more higher end phones and such out there if there was more direction to actual innovative technology, instead of being able to sell millions of phones because of a name.

          16. you are reaching with that argument. Customers dont even know what LTE is, all they know is 4g. They dont know its better than tmobiles, they dont know tmobile doesnt have LTE. They think all 4g is the same/dont care about the difference. They just want their phones to be fast. They even made a skit on SNL about verizon 4g lte commercial and how there are so many acronyms they dont even kow whats going on, nor do they really care.
            Also, it would be much much cheaper, faster, efficient, and logical… to just market tmobile’s on 4g as better than verizons. Instead they invest billions of dollars to play catch up and say me 2? That makes no sense. Also, your apple comment is a little biased because you being on a tech site are a tech nerd. Apple products arent aimed at tech blog readers (aka enthusiasts). The iphone was the best phone for general population up until maybe the gs3. And even now, people who have both an ipad and an android phone, if they arent tech savvy, they have much more apps on their ipad. My mother had an evo 4g and has yet to download an app on her own. It is just geared toward ease of use vs innovative features. Plus yes did they market… and android did not, so no one knew what android could do unless they spent hours online researching. Which people do not want to do…so that brings me back to LTE, no one would know whats better unless they went online to research. Every company markets their 4g as better than others.

          17. Most of the benefits of LTE right now are if you are the person running a wireless network because it’s more efficient with the spectrum you have. From a consumer perspective you are just as well off on T-Mobile HSPA+ as you are on Verizon LTE.

            The other side of this is that most devices coming out made by manufacturers will have LTE support. T-Mobile would not get as good deals on handsets if they made manufacturers make separate handsets for them just to support HSPA+ 84, for example. In the future I think we will see Sprint in this bind since their LTE bands is completely off and different from anything else out there. An aws band LTE phone would work on Verizon, At&t, and T-Mobile’s network.

          18. Maybe that could be an explanation of my tmobile might switch to LTE in your scenario… however, that would not lead to the explanation of why every other carrier in the world would switch to LTE. In fact, it proves the quite the opposite. If Verizon was the only one with LTE and it is so much worse than HSPA+ then they wouldnt get any deals when they launched… and why would carriers jump ship from a global format to a verizon niche market. The Verizon commercials somehow duped and tricked sprint, att, and tmobile, and korea, and australia, and the UK, that LTE is better or more efficient or future proof than HSPA+ when it really isnt. Thats why i find that whole “because verizon’s 4g commercials are better than tmobile’s 4g commercials” to be an idiotic argument for tmobiles lte switch.

          19. Actually the 1Gbps is for LTE-Advanced. No carrier has rolled this out yet. AT&T will start to do so by the end of next year, while T-Mobile will be moving straight to this instead of plain ol’ LTE. It looks like T-Mobile made the smart move, as they look to be the first with an LTE-Advanced network next year, which means that they will have by far the fastest data speeds of any carrier when that happens. Folks should be able to get LTE-A or DC-HSPA+ virtually anywhere they get T-Mobile by then, with GPRS/EDGE being very limited.

        2. wasn’t t-mobile going to go for HSPA+ 84 before going for LTE instead though?

        3. HSPA+ has capability to provide 672mbps if t-mobile was to complete forget about LTE HSPA+ has not even nearly hit its cap http://www.ubergizmo.com/2010/12/long-term-hspa-evolution-to-provide-t-mobile-usa-with-672-mbps-downloads/

          1. That article said theoretically! In 2010 and now in 2012 tmo says we are going LTE

          2. Yes I was using it more so as a point of how far hspa+ could have gone had T-Mobile went that route instead of lte

          3. True, for now HSPA+ is sufficient but the future is LTE. http://www.androidauthority.com/hspa-vs-lte-which-one-is-better-78120/

        4. LTE = Long Term Evolution.

      2. so you are saying att and sprint and tmobile all fell for verizon’s marketing?

        1. No, the people of these united states fell for the hype AT&T Sprint and T-mobile are just giving people what they whined about T-mobile at this oint had no choice, sprint is still trying to figure out what messed up network they wanna use, AT&T is pretty much just the GSM version of Verizon both of them tend to do the same crap that won’t truly benefit customers time to time.

          1. that argument i find very hard to beleive. “The people” dont even know what that tmoile 4g is different from verizon 4g. Only the people who visit tech blogs know the difference. “The people” dont even know that verizon n sprint use cdma. If you were to ask a regular consumer if they preferred LTE vs HSPA+ they would look at you like you had two heads. Besides Tmobile markets its 4g just as much as verizon.

            And even if your argument were true, it would be much more financial sense to just further market what you already have,as opposed to spending billions of dollars building infrastructure that will make your network worse?

            im not going to tell you which is better right now. im just saying im pretty sure LTE has a future payoff that hspa doesnt, otherwise att and tmobile would have no reason whatsoever to invest in it.

          2. Exactly nobody knows what T-Mobile 4g is but Verizon marketed LTE fairly well people may not know what they are but they know Verizon is marketing it as better than everyone else

          3. Yeah but they dont know tmobile’s 4g isnt LTE, or that LTE is better than HSPA +, is my point. They dont know anything, therefore it makes ZERO sense to spend billions of dollars creating a whole new platform, just because a handful of people know the difference between HSPA and LTE… to the general public 4g =4g.

            it would make more sense to just continue their
            current infrastructure/market their current 4g. Obviously, there is some sort of long term advantage to LTE (perhaps higher speeds? higher capacity? lighter strain on the network) I don’t know what it is, nor do i really care. I just hate when people say “tmobile is only switching because verizons marketing.” They even made an snl skit making fun of verizons commercials because nobody has any clue what 4g lte even is.

    2. huge battery drink? yes on my gnexus, but not on my i5.

      1. You mean you are comparing a tiny little screen to a very nice comfy to read screen…I think you are holding it wrong.

        1. Jason, are you using one of those phones with a tiny 5″ screen? If you’re not using a nexus 7 then you are missing out.

    3. Using the Incredible 4G, my battery life is amazing, my speeds here in Vermont are also amazing (20 down average). So, that’s why I’m obsessed with LTE. If TMobile gets nicer android phones (sony, htc etc) and LTE, I see no reason to stick with verizons ridiculous pricing.

    4. I get 26Mbps on my GS3 on ATT LTE, only get 8Mbps on the HSPA+

      1. AT&T doesn’t do DC-HSPA+ (like T-Mobile) or MIMO. Max speeds on AT&T’s HSPA+ service can be expected to be about half of what you would receive on T-Mobile. If both MIMO & DC were put in use T-Mobile could easily ramp HSPA+ speeds to 84Mbps (about 40Mbps real world max), with more headroom to go.

    5. ever think that maybe not everywhere is like it is there? I’m with VZW right now in Houston and was thinking about going to TMo. I have tried 2 different phones out (S3 and One s) on TMo here in Houston and I was lucky to get 2mb on both of them with good signal strength. I get 20mb+ on my verizon phone. Needless today, i’m staying with Verizon.

  11. I switched from my old classic plan to one of the new value plans when I got my GNote2. With the monthly phone payments, I’m still paying less per month than I was before! Once the phone payments go away, it’ll be even cheaper.

  12. The EDGE only / GPRS only areas will remain so forever. They have said NOTHING to address this.

    1. Actually GPRS/EDGE will be still covered, but capacity will shrink drastically. Max coverage will be on HSPA+, which they are continuing to roll out. Eventually this will cover everywhere they have a signal, as 2G will be sunset.

      1. Did you see the slide that says only a fraction of their CURRENT HSPA network will be upgraded to see LTE and HSPA 1900?

        1. Did you bother to do more reading elsewhere on the internet? What I posted was beyond the scope of the article above. Nearly 90% of their existing 1900Mhz spectrum is being refarmed for HSPA+, NOT LTE. This is spectrum currently (hardly) being used for 2G service by T-Mobile. This is not an upgrade, just a spectrum swap. This then allows T-Mobile to use their AWS spectrum for LTE while still using some for HSPA+. Again, T-Mobile’s max coverage will be HSPA+, with LTE covering major metro markets, and legacy GPRS/EDGE drastically reduced until it is eventually sunset. I work in the industry, so I stay informed. Try doing that yourself before you come back with a smart alec, ill-informed comment.



        2. Straight from the horse’s mouth:

    2. Because it is always the case to focus on huge population areas.

  13. I want to switch to them from Verizon so bad but will not unless they can give me at least 3g at my apartment and not edge… they coverage doesn’t compare to Verizon. grr put me in a pickle.

    1. Their ‘modernization’ is supposed to increase indoor signal penetration. You should check again when it’s complete in your area.

  14. May grab a nexus 4 and head back to tmobile. Big Red is cool but.. This bill even with employee discounts.

  15. Does any of this $4.7bln involve actual expansion? Or just upgrading the existing network to LTE?

  16. Very happy with tmo atm. Hoping for more coverage and no more edge. But don’t plan on switching. Value plans are great, if you can do math…

  17. This will be a boon for devices like the Nexus 4. Most can afford the upfront cost and will now have a carrier that bills them ONLY for the network and not the phone. Options, gotta love them.

  18. I’ve had T-Mobile since the G1 & don’t plan on switching anytime soon. Went to them from Verizon to get an Android phone. :D

    1. Yes, I’m with you on that one, except I switched from VZW just after T-Mobile became T-mobile (you know, the old Voicestream), but yes G1 was fun….to bad I turned it into a G1 nightlight.

  19. I wonder what the iPhone will do to tmo’s system? We heard other carriers claimed it caused problems. As for hspa or lte … hspa is 3.75G not 4G

    HSPA+ is the tip of the mountain with 3G technology, and LTE is simply the foundation for a new mountain. LTE, also known as 4G, is the most advanced telecommunications technology currently available, and is one that defines a clear path toward future developments, making it the most attractive choice for carriers these days

    1. Talk about a bunch of marketing gobbledygook!

    2. at this time, it won’t bog down the HSPA+ network because iPhone is on the 1900 band while the T-Mobile phones are on 1700.

  20. I was getting some strange speeds this morning on tmobile while the download was normal I was seeing insane upload speeds ranging from 50-82mb I wonder if it means anything concidering my phone is rated at 42mb

  21. I’ve been a T-Mobile customer for 9 years or so, first on my own and now on a 4 line family plan. I have a Nexus 4 on the way from Google directly.

    I think this means I can get my bill lowered soon just by rejiggering my plan after the new year. So, yay me! :-)

  22. T-Mobile has a lot of catching up to do but I love the new direction.

  23. Goodbye T-Mobile. I am a loyal subscriber and love t-mobile phones but this combined with Throttling my data, and not allowing me to use my phone as a mobile hot spot is the final straw. In April or sooner i will probably be switching to Sprint, at least there i can get unlimited data that really is unlimited. But Ill see what the landscape looks like before anything.

    1. I’ve used over 30GB of data so far this month on their unlimited 4G data plan (with a week to go!). I have had the plan since they started it, and have yet to be throttled at all. Like all of their competitors, you do need to purchase an add-on feature to use the phone as a mobile hotspot, so in no way is this an advantage for Sprint. Considering that T-Mobile’s data speeds are excellent, and Sprint’s are the worst of the nationwide carriers I don’t see what your problem is.

    2. T-Mobile has plans now where they DON’T throttle you and it doesn’t renew your contract… maybe you should ask?

      edit: Oh yeah if you’re mobile hotspotting you have to be on one of the plans that throttle you. Otherwise limitless unthrottled data with T-Mobile for everything just on your phone.

      btw: Sprint data speeds are useless. It’s like you’re throttled ALL the time.

    3. Do some searching, not only do I have T-Mobile’s truly unlimited data plan, but I also found out how I can use my phone as wifi hotspot. Didn’t even have to root the phone either.

  24. I currently have T-Mobile, only for about six months but I can totally myself sticking with it after the two years, my data is always good, voice sometimes drops but even that’s improved some since I got them. I can’t imagine owning an Android especially my GS3 and not having Sprint or T-Mobile. On 4G only I’ve used 21 GB of data since I signed up.

  25. Throwing money at something never works unless you have a good business model. T-Mobile business model is cheap and affordable services. They want to abandon that niche and attempt to become another AT-T/Verizon type sucking carrier by charging huge prices because of LTE etc. I feel sorry for those investors who listened to quack MBAs and poured 4.7 billion dollars. I imagine this is how the presentation in board-room went. Lots of quack MBAs with shiny iMacs and glossly and colourful powerpoint presentations saying “all it takes is money and we can enjoy it like Verizon/AT&T”. Sorry going to bomb horribly. It looks more and more like only Apple, Google and Microsoft can actually disrupt AT&T/Verizon duopoly.

    1. Uhh when did they EVER imply higher prices when all they were talking about was making the network better?

      They still are the only carrier with decent data speeds and give you unlimited use of it.

      1. I think he was talking about at&t.

  26. Will the switch to LTE help with building penetration?

    1. No. The merger with Metro PCS will help with building penetration.

    2. should, at least that’s what I’ve read about concerning lte

  27. Been happy with T-Mobile for 10 years and nobody supports pure android like they do.

  28. Maybe this is discussed in the video but I’m too tired to be put to sleep watching that. What does this mean to those on the classic plans? Are we just going to be grandfathered and when the contract is up have to sign up for the value plans? I like the idea of spreading out payments since the good phones are so expensive but surely you can still pay the full upfront cost and avoid whatever “payment fees” they try to hide on the bill. I’ve been with T-Mobile for years and even though I often get better speeds on my Verizon hotspot is there ever going to be a point where everyone is happy? I avg about 4mbps in Birmingham and for a phone I am fine with that. It just seems like people expect home fiber connection speeds in their pockets. What are you people downloading? Seems like it is just a competition to see if your speeds are better than the guy next to you. Kind of stupid don’t ya think?

  29. Now just get bought by Google and you’re all set.

  30. Congratulation tmobile, finally a CEO that knows what he is doing, thank god.

  31. When are they going to upgrade their VAST areas of 2G?

    1. Come up here to Northwestern California, or in much of the west, and you will end up on their GPRS and EDGE in many areas.

  32. crap coverage.

  33. You guys would love the way its done in UK – forget Subsidized – the phones are free – not a penny.

    1. lol seriously! jealous..

  34. I want to go in hard on Carly Foulkes.. just saying

  35. Nexus 4.
    In other words, yes, im fine with T-mobile.

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