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What T-Mobile's Shut Down of 3G on the AWS Band Means For Users

TmoNews is reporting that T-Mobile USA is shutting down its HSPA network on the AWS band in 24 markets this year. Technically the shutdown is of UMTS, which includes HSPA and HSPA+, which are the 3G and pre-LTE 4G standards for GSM networks.

The AWS band, which is also called the 1700 Mhz band, 1700/2100 or band 4 is where T-Mobile first deployed 3G HSPA in 2008. AWS is also where T-Mobile launched LTE service in 2013 and is still its main LTE band. Until now, T-Mobile has run both LTE and HSPA on the AWS band.

Most of T-Mobile's newer handsets support LTE and T-Mobile has been gradually switching spectrum from HSPA to LTE to meet demand. Now, for the first time, T-Mobile is completely eliminating HSPA on AWS in a number of major markets. Here's a list of the affected markets and their shutdown dates:

Indianapolis, February 25th
Louisville, May 18th
Chicago, June 18th
Houston, July 15th
Los Angeles, July 22nd
Albuquerque, July 25th
El Paso, July 25th
Oklahoma City, July 27th
Savannah (Jacksonville), July 27th
Baton Rouge (Mobile), July 27th
Columbus (Atlanta), July 27th
Griffin (Atlanta), July 27th
Charleston (Carolina), July 27th
Kansas City, August 3rd
Roanoke (Virginia), August 3rd
St. Louis, August 5th
Nogales (Phoenix), August 10th
Madera (Sacramento), August 10th
Boise City (SLC), August 10th
Del Rio & Kingsville (Austin), August 10th
Miami, August 20th
Laredo (Austin), August 20th
Biloxi, Hattiesburg (Mobile), August 20th
Anniston, AL (Birmingham), August 20th

If you're worried about the shutdown affecting your service, relax. T-Mobile is not getting rid of HSPA, HSPA+ or 3G in any market. All the markets where T-Mobile is dropping AWS HSPA are ones where T-Mobile has deployed HSPA on the 1900 Mhz band as part of its network modernization project in 2013. Only HSPA on AWS is being eliminated, HSPA will still be available on the 1900 Mhz band, which all recent T-Mobile (and AT&T) phones support. If you have an LTE phone, the speed and reliability of your LTE connections should be improved in the 24 markets that are getting more LTE bandwidth.

The shutdown will only negatively affect customers with certain older non-LTE T-Mobile phones which only support 3G on AWS. Some of the better known phones that will be affected are the LG G2X, Nexus S, HTC My Touch 4G and the Samsung Exhibit 4G. Every T-Mobile phone released since 2012 supports HSPA on 1900 Mhz and will still get 3G and HSPA+ 4G. Even the affected phones will still work for talk, text, MMS and 2G and Edge data.

Here's a list of the phones and other devices that only support HSPA on the AWS band and will lose 3G data in the markets where HSPA on AWS is being shut down:


T-Mobile is offering customers whose service will be impacted a free Alcatel OneTouch Pop Astro LTE phone. To qualify you must be currently using one of the T-Mobile branded phones in one of the markets where HSPA is being shut down.

According to the TmoNews article, T-Mobile will notify customers who are eligible for a free LTE phone by text message.

Source, Image: TmoNews

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44 comments:

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  1. That explains why I was getting 2G or E when I put my Truphone sim in my T-Mobile Comet.

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  2. Enter your comment...According to Tmobile customer service, the free replacement offer only applies to postpaid customers!

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  3. Does this apply to tmobile prepaid customers. Do they get a free phone

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  4. T-Mobile owns Metro PCS. MetroPCS customers are just out of luck. Nice how T-MOBILE notifies their costumers after the change. My coverage in Louisville has deteriorated since the shut down.

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    1. Every GSM phone that MetroPCS has sold supports HSPA on 1900 Mhz so Metro doesn't need to give customers free phones.

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    2. Metro is owned by tmobile and is there budget company. you get all the towers tmobile has but the tmobile customers have priority if the towers ever get congested. Metro is also much newer which means they have never sold the older style phones tmobile did since tmobile has been around many many years.

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  5. Will this make the MF 61 worthless except as a paperweight? Bad enough redpocket dropped data plans right after they sold me a MF 61. I was at least hoping to be able to use it on a different tmo mvno during Summer vacation.

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    1. The MF 61 only supports HSPA on AWS. So it will be 2G only in the markets listed above and probably everywhere sooner or later.

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  6. I think not, but: will my new ZTE Concord 2 be effected in Denver? Its 4G but NOT LTE, so I ask. Seems like 3g and 4g devices will all eventually be worthless. However, steps to reduce fragmentation are mostly welcome. More standardization is generally better for the consumer, imo.

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    1. The Concord 2 supports HSPA on 1900 Mhz so it should be good until T-Mobole go all LTE which is several years away.

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  7. On one of my old 3g only phone tmo lines I use just for pay as you go. I got the text a few days ago. This isn't my main line that I don't use for data anyway. I use just to text and talk on sometimes. I'm just curious have you heard yet if they will do this for pay as you go with the free phone is so I'll take it? And would we have to trade in our phone to get it also?

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    1. I don't think they require you to turn in the old phone so you might as well take the free phone.

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  8. Does this mean we don't have to worry about unlocked AT&T phones not supporting the AWS band anymore?

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    1. I think so. I believe that T-Mobile will eventually move all 3G to 1900 and use AWS exclusively for LTE.

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  9. So LTE phones that don't support the AWS band won't get the new LTE channel?

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    1. Yes, but all T-Mobile LTE phones and most recent AT&T LTE phones support LTE on band 4 which is AWS.

      Also it's not a new channel. T-Mobile has used band 4 for LTE ever since they stated offering LTE

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    2. If I understand this. Phones only need to support LTE band 4 now and 1700 Mhz AWS band support doesn't matter anymore?

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    3. Only in the markets listed above for now. But I suspect T-Mobile will move all HSPA to 1900 and make AWS LTE only. Which will make AT&T and most international phone models get 3G or better on T-Mobile

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  10. Will this affect the Verizon iPhone 4S or 5 being used on t-Mobile? I'm not sure what bands they use.

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    1. No, the Verizon iPhone 4s and 5 are not affected. Both support HSPA on 1900 Mhz but not on AWS so they will continue to get 3G and non-LTE 4G HSPA+ just as they do now.

      The Verizon iPhone 5 doesn't support any of T-Mobile's LTE bands and the iPhone 4s doesn't support LTE at all.

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  11. Does this mean that the reception for 4G here in Elizabeth City would actually get 4G on T-Mibile? Last year I had friends who had a Samsung Galaxy S3 and the best that they could get on T-Mobile was 2G (yup you heard right) and that is in no way acceptable to someone like me. But if their reception would only improve T-Mobile MVNO's have good deals.

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    1. Yes, If it's a non-T-Mobile S3 that doesn't support HSPA+ on AWS and T-Mobile moves HSPA+ service to 1900 Mhz, it should get HSPA+. If it's a T-Mobile S3 the switch should have no effect.

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  12. my htc sensation guide says it supports U1900, but it is on the list to be replaced?

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    1. The T-Mobile specs page says the Sensation supports UMTS on 1900 Mhz. HTC's says it doesn't. I have no idea which is right but the fact that T-Mobile put it on the list of phones eligible for a free phone makes me think it doesn't.
      Tech specs: HTC Sensation 4G | T-Mobile Support
      HTC Sensation™ Specs and Reviews | HTC United States

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  13. The list of affected markets is a bit confusing. It could be clearer.

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    1. There is a market name and a date that AWS 3G service ends. Crystal clear.

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  14. so in the louisville market (and others) is 4g (not 4glte) available on the 1900 band? they keep advertising the $30 metro pcs 4g plan? but their map says 1900lte?
    are users of the $30 buck plan stuck with 2g when in these markets????

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    1. AFAIK all the markets where they are shutting off HSPA on AWS will have HSPA on 1900 Mhz by the time of the shutdown.

      Where on the MetroPCS coverage map dies it say 1900lte? I looked at the MetroPCS coverage map and zoomed in all the way on Louisville and I don't see anywhere that indicates which band(s) LTE is on.

      T-Mobile has sufficient spectrum (30 Mhz) in Louisville that they could run both LTE and HSPA in 1900 Mhz if they wanted to but I don't know if they do.

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  15. I did not know of this change. I just purchased two Samsung T199 phones to get prepaid coverage in Canada for my trip in September. It does not have LTE. I am confused if this phone will work in Nashville, TN and/or Canada?

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    1. You'll be fine, the T199 supports all of T-mobile's 2G and 3G bands, including 3G on 1900 KHz. In Canada you might get 2G in a few areas where 3G is on 850 KHz which the T199 doesn't support but phone should still work any where there's a GSM signal.

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  16. I have 2 of the MF61 devices, pretty solid little hotspots on the match your data plan. My area isn't on the list, but certainly they will get to it. Thanks for this post, I hope there is one with the next round of cities.

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  17. I have an hp stream 13 4g laptop with mu736 broadband module. I was fine for the first part of summer and now can't connect in los angeles. if I drive to a market not on the list, I connect just fine. I don't understand why i'm affected when i'm connecting at hspa/h+n and apparently at the frequencies available. no one at hp/T-Mobile will help, they are silent, like they want everyone that was on the free data for life program to go away.

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  18. I have an hp stream 13 4g laptop with mu736 broadband module connecting hspa/h+ at the supposed frequencies available but I can't connect in los angeles anymore. I was fine the first half of the year. if I drive to a market not on the chopping block, i'm fine. I can't get hp/T-Mobile to help, I also happen to be part of the free data for life program, maybe they are silent so they don't have to honor the FDFL program anymore. any ideas?

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  19. I hate T-mobile its sucks boost mobile its event better with the coverage

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Obviously you missed your Halloween waring about the Scarriers! Watch and learn:
      http://www.tmonews.com/2015/10/john-legere-celebrates-halloween-with-tales-of-the-scarriers/

      Delete
  20. İphone has all 2g, 3g, 4g, and LTE bands for most of Countries including T-Mobile USA.

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  21. hi, Dennis, I really could not figure where this question goes and sorry if this does not belong here.

    Are there any comments/discussion regarding using Project Fi sim card in not recommended devices and in particular did any one use it in Samsung Galaxy S3?

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    1. I've heard of people trying Project Fi SIMs in iPhones and the Nexus 5.
      Reportedly it kinda works but:
      You need to have a Nexus 5x, 6 or 6p to get into a Project Fi and get a SIM.
      A Project Fi Sim in a Nexus 5 or iPhone will only work on T-Mobile, not Sprint.

      My Project Fi posts are here Prepaid Phone News

      Delete
    2. Searching for a signalMarch 21, 2016 at 4:53 PM

      Dennis: You seem to understand the radios and frequencies in cell phones. That's hard to find. I am north of Seattle 30 miles and on the fringe when it comes to reception. I tried searching for service with a Samsung note 4 and an S4 and both where initially sold as Verizon phones. Both pick up a couple bars of Verizon service but nothing on T mobile. If I leave and get close to towers I get a Tmoble signal but if TM has 2 bars the same phone on Verizon has 5 bars. Are the radios in the phones different than ones that would have been manufactured for tmobile versus Verizon? Are Tmobiles towers just putting out a weaker signal or could Verizon be transmitting over the legal limit or could the frequency the signal is on just not able to travel as far on Tmobile. It amazes me how the Tmobile signal will fade away within blocks of passing a tower and on Verizons service it will be strong for a good half mile or more. Let me know your thoughts.

      Thanks

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    3. There are many factors that affect signal strength and propagation including transmitter power, antenna type and placement and the frequencies used. Lower frequencies tend to travel farther and penetrate walls better than higher ones.

      The Verizon S4 and Note 4 are configured to support all of Verizon's bands including 700 Mhz band 13 LTE. They only support T-Mobile's 1700 Mhz band 4 LTE, not its band 12 700 Mhz LTE, putting T-Mobile at a disadvantage.

      T-Mobile also only uses 1900 Mhz for 3G and voice whereas Verizon uses both 850 Mhz and 1900 Mhz so Verizon 3G/voice coverage will generally extend further from each tower than T-Mobile's. Carriers that use higher frequencies typically use more towers, closer together to compensate for the shorter range of high frequency signals.

      Delete
  22. I was in Los Angeles last week and discovered this. I have an LG Mytouch 4g purchased in 2013 but it would only work in 2G mode. I called T-Mobile but the representative just told me I needed a new phone, not that they were phasing out 4G for me. Very disappointing when trying to show your family videos that would normally play without an issue. The batteries for this phone are only $4 each so I planned on having it until 2019.

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  23. I don't think they listed all the markets here. Not sure if they accidentally made the switch or were forced to in my area of NJ, but my older phone lost 4G connectivity about the time they released this information.
    I figured I would be one of the last areas switched since of the low population density, and I can go elsewhere in NJ and have full 4G coverage.

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  24. i have 909 area code can i can free phone while being in sf or do i have to wait till i go back do i still have to pay the tax for free phone

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    Replies
    1. As long as you got a text from T-Mobile offering you a free replacement phone, it should not matter where you are located. I don't think tax is charged on the free phone.

      Delete
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