T-Mobile has been one of the most innovative wireless carriers in the US in recent years, thanks to a series of “uncarrier” movies that have have shaken up the way carriers bill customers and offer subscriber perks.
But there’s one big problem that’s kept a lot of people from signing up: T-Mobile’s network coverage isn’t as good as AT&T’s or Verizon’s. Sure, T-Mobile customers can get blazing-fast data speeds in some parts of the country. But in other areas they can get… zero bars.
That could start to change later this year. T-Mobile has just picked up a lot of low-band spectrum in the latest FCC spectrum auction. That means T-Mobile is paying nearly $8 billion for the rights to build out its network in a way that should offer 4G coverage in pretty much every part of the United States, including Puerto Rico.
In practical terms, T-Mobile and its subsidiary MetroPCs will start to make use of the new 600 MHz network spectrum later this year, although it could take a few years for it to roll out everywhere.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to take advantage of the improved coverage right away though… at least not unless you trade in your current phone for a new model.
There aren’t any 600 MHz-compatible smartphones on the market yet. Those are coming later this year too.
While this move could help T-Mobile catch up to rivals AT&T and Verizon in the short term, both of those companies already have better nationwide coverage (and more customers) than T-Mobile. And they’re already looking past 4G and starting to plan out their 5G networks.