T-Mobile Has Doubled LTE Footprint in 2015

Yesterday, T-Mobile announced their Q4 2015 numbers and they were pretty impressive overall.  The company added 2.1 million new customers, bringing their total for all of 2015 to 8.3 million for the year.  They also added some 1.3 million branded postpaid users, bringing that total up to 4.5 million for the year.  Couple this with the overall financial figures of $297 million in income for the quarter and over $730 million for the year, the company is on pretty solid foundations for growth in 2016.

There was one interesting note in the release on their financial report when it came to T-Mobile’s LTE coverage.  In the report, the company states they have doubled their 4G LTE footprint since this time last year.  That is a huge amount of growth and it doesn’t show signs of slowing down.

From a pure POP (Point of Presence) perspective, 305 million POPs that have 4g LTE service in them, giving them far more coverage than the 265 million they had in 2014.  For those of you who are sharp readers and know maths, 305 million is not double of 265 million.  The key word in the release was geographical coverage.  They are covering more square miles with LTE at the end of 2015 than they were with 2014.  How they are doing this is pretty straightforward:  The 700 MHz band.

Throughout all of 2015, T-Mobile worked hard to get the 700 MHz band out to as many POPs as possible.  This low-band spectrum is now in 190 million of the carrier’s POPs and by its nature, allows 4G LTE coverage to extend to rural areas and into buildings in urban areas.  I posted a few weeks ago a site where you can see all of the 700 MHz coverage for T-Mobile that you can

T-Mobile 700MHz Coverage Map
T-Mobile 700MHz Coverage Map

reference.  In addition to the spectrum being in these POPs, T-Mobile has plans to enter agreements to have the 700 MHz A-Block spectrum brought to an additional 48 million POPs in 2016.  That would mean over 250 million of the carrier’s POPs would have this low-band option for customers of their network as well as those who are on Project Fi through Google.

In 2014, when T-Mobile acquired a large chunk of the 700 MHz A-Block, a lot of people who follow the carriers and mobile tech scratched their heads.  This band, after all, competes with some UHF broadcasting in some areas and generally is not seen as being as efficient as some of the higher MHz bands.  While their is certainly more interference at theses lower frequencies, T-Mobile has been methodical in their approach to getting it out there and have done, clearly, a good job on it.  Having this spectrum as an option allows users to stay connected better in more places which has the knock-on effect of improved customer satisfaction.

The mobile carrier business is brutal with high turn over.  T-Mobile isn’t perfect but they clearly have a formula that is working for them when you combine their customer acquisition model and their network coverage model.  It could be an exciting year for the un-carrier.