By the time the iPhone 6 release arrives later this year T-Mobile will be a much bigger player in the mobile industry thanks to a new 4G LTE expansion announced today.
T-Mobile is shaking up the wireless industry by removing subsidies and offering new plans that shift the cost of the iPhone and smartphones to a separate payment that also makes it easier for users to upgrade to a new phone faster.
The biggest drawback to the T-Mobile experience is the lack of a large 4G LTE network. While the carrier likes to talk about the size of its 4G network, many potential T-Mobile customers are not currently able to switch to T-Mobile due to coverage that doesn’t reach every where they travel.
T-Mobile announced ambitious plans to expand 4G LTE coverage to current 2g and edge areas by 2015, with at least half of this work completed by the end of 2014. This move will bring T-Mobile into a better place to compete with AT&T and Verizon in coverage and speed, not just on price and new plan offers.
“Right now, T-Mobile covers 96 percent of Americans,” boasts John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile in a press release announcing the plans. This sounds like a large amount of coverage, but the 2G and edge speeds are not fast enough for many users. By using new spectrum and completing the conversion T-Mobile plans to deliver a much larger 4G LTE network by the end of 2014 and a complete switch over from 2G and Edge to 4G LTE by the middle of 2015.
While this T-Mobile 4G LTE expansion will benefit all 4G LTE smartphones the company sells, the 4G LTE coverage area will reach the 50% mark near the rumored iPhone 6 release date, which could tempt many users to switch to T-Mobile to get the iPhone 6 early, if the company is still offering to pay users’s early termination fees.
How big will this new T-Mobile 4G LTE network be? The current T-Mobile 4G LTE network covers 210 million people. According to Neville Ray, Chief Technology Officer for T-Mobile, “Our 4G LTE is going to reach 230 million people across the U.S. by mid-year. By year’s end, we’re going to be delivering wicked-fast 4G LTE to more than 250 million people. That’s how the Un-carrier rolls out 4G LTE.”
T-Mobile is not sharing where the expensive 4G LTE coverage will improve first, but it is striking back at Verizon with a lawsuit claiming Verizon’s use of T-Mobile’s coverage map is misleading and a new advertisement.
The iPhone 6 is the name currently given to the new iPhone for 2014. The iPhone 6 will likely feature a 4.7-inch display and we may see a second larger 5.5 or 5.7-inch iPhone 6. An Apple partner announced that it expects profitability in the fall, which combined with other rumors and reports suggests an iPhone 6 release date in the fall. Apple announced the last three iPhone models in the fall.
If T-Mobile is able to deliver a larger 4G LTE network by September and even into mid-2015 it will be in a much better place to sell the iPhone 6 to consumers who could take the carrier up on its offer to pay their ETF. This is a limited time offer, but it would make sense to bring it back or keep it going until the iPhone 6 arrives.