Question

4G/LTE service in Austin TX is well under 1 Mbps tested at multiple locations


Badge

Here in NW Austin Texas, I’ve been suffering from 500 Kbps (0.5 Mbps) download speeds at home & nearby over 4G LTE with the same phone that had previously measured well over 20 Mbps download inside an office building pre-pandemic. I use an inexpensive Nokia 6.2 and my spouse uses my hand-me-down Nokia 6.1. She is getting around 1.5 Mbps when tested at the same time (still pitiful, but roughly 3x my download speed). When testing our phones speed, we make sure one is in airplane mode (Tmo data OFF, Wifi & Bluetooth OFF) while the other is being tested. 

I’ve spoken to multiple very friendly & articulate customer service reps but nothing is improving the situation. I went into a company-owned Tmo store that happens to be just a few hundred yards from my home to duplicate the problem. At the same time my own phone was pulling 0.5 Mbps download speed, an iPhone (4G model, NOT a 5G phone) was getting 20 Mbhps! That's while the store rep could see that one local tower had a ticket open because it was running at degraded capacity. The store rep destroyed my SIM card and burned me a new one, but... no change in download speed.

On May 7 I decided to check bandwidth in my backyard then drive off to three other sites where I knew towers were located. I had checked with TMo customer service that two of the four locations had 100% working towers with no tickets (work orders) filed. Same awful bandwidth everywhere. See screenshots in the album below, including one of a tower in the very parking lot where I was testing.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/b2Q4FVcBA4pJtZHV7

I’ve been a T-mobile customer for nearly 15 years, enrolled in the Simple Choice plan since 2014. This post is simply a cautionary tale for anyone considering using T-Mobile data service.


6 replies

Badge

T-Mobile customer service reps and tech support will dodge the fundamental issue (poor 4G/LTE download speeds) using distractions about tickets filed against some local towers, signal variability based on location, or even hint that they can't help with my Nokia device since it's not provided by T-Mobile. It's been a somewhat effective tactic to keep my payments flowing for the last few weeks. So I performed additional tests to verify this is T-Mobile's problem, not an issue with my device or with local towers suffering from degraded performance.

During the several weeks I've been spending a lot of time on the phone with T-Mobile support, I evaluated a new Google Pixel 4a (4G/LTE, not a 5G model), but the bandwidth was still coming in around 500kbps (0.5Mbps). Both my Nokia 6.2 and the Google Pixel 4a seems to start up in the 1-2 Mbps range but within seconds settle at 500kbps - almost as if T-Mobile is throttling the download. I should add that my Simple Choice plan includes 4GB of 4G/LTE ("high-speed") data each month, and I'm nowhere near my monthly cap.

Next I realized that I was going to have to leave T-Mobile after nearly 15 years as a customer, so I needed to try an MVNO first. After looking at Google Fi and other MVNOs I decided it would be interested to try the lowest-price well-rated MVNO that uses the same T-Mo towers - Mint Mobile. I received a SIM card set up for a free 7-day trial tested it in my backyard. First I verified the T-Mobile SIM in my Nokia 6.2 was testing at 0.5Mbps download, then I hot-swapping in the Mint Mobile SIM. It was pulling 17Mbps download. I hot-swapped the T-Mobile SIM and was back to 0.5Mbps down.

Additional screenshots documenting this test are in the same album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/b2Q4FVcBA4pJtZHV7

Userlevel 2
Badge

T-Mobile customer service reps and tech support will dodge the fundamental issue (poor 4G/LTE download speeds) using distractions about tickets filed against some local towers, signal variability based on location, or even hint that they can't help with my Nokia device since it's not provided by T-Mobile. It's been a somewhat effective tactic to keep my payments flowing for the last few weeks. So I performed additional tests to verify this is T-Mobile's problem, not an issue with my device or with local towers suffering from degraded performance.

During the several weeks I've been spending a lot of time on the phone with T-Mobile support, I evaluated a new Google Pixel 4a (4G/LTE, not a 5G model), but the bandwidth was still coming in around 500kbps (0.5Mbps). Both my Nokia 6.2 and the Google Pixel 4a seems to start up in the 1-2 Mbps range but within seconds settle at 500kbps - almost as if T-Mobile is throttling the download. I should add that my Simple Choice plan includes 4GB of 4G/LTE ("high-speed") data each month, and I'm nowhere near my monthly cap.

Next I realized that I was going to have to leave T-Mobile after nearly 15 years as a customer, so I needed to try an MVNO first. After looking at Google Fi and other MVNOs I decided it would be interested to try the lowest-price well-rated MVNO that uses the same T-Mo towers - Mint Mobile. I received a SIM card set up for a free 7-day trial tested it in my backyard. First I verified the T-Mobile SIM in my Nokia 6.2 was testing at 0.5Mbps download, then I hot-swapping in the Mint Mobile SIM. It was pulling 17Mbps download. I hot-swapped the T-Mobile SIM and was back to 0.5Mbps down.

Additional screenshots documenting this test are in the same album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/b2Q4FVcBA4pJtZHV7

Have you tried getting a brand new SIM card from T-Mobile and then using that to test the speed? Because sometimes it can solely be just the SIM card that needs to be replaced and then it can fix everything. I'm not saying that's the cause, but you should at least attempt that so you can at least rule it out.

I'm in the Houston area - I pull 300-600 megs down, consistently. Recently went back to Austin to visit, and I was getting either total failures to connect or dial-up speeds in most of the area. Horrible experience! I have no idea what is going on with the Austin infrastructure but it's the opposite of my experience in Houston on T-Mobile.

Userlevel 7
Badge +13

unless theyre being upgraded..not that they would do all of them at once..but it might be enough of them for the other towers to be having issues issues handling the additional people on them.

Badge

T-Mobile customer service reps and tech support will dodge the fundamental issue (poor 4G/LTE download speeds) using distractions about tickets filed against some local towers, signal variability based on location, or even hint that they can't help with my Nokia device since it's not provided by T-Mobile. It's been a somewhat effective tactic to keep my payments flowing for the last few weeks. So I performed additional tests to verify this is T-Mobile's problem, not an issue with my device or with local towers suffering from degraded performance.

During the several weeks I've been spending a lot of time on the phone with T-Mobile support, I evaluated a new Google Pixel 4a (4G/LTE, not a 5G model), but the bandwidth was still coming in around 500kbps (0.5Mbps). Both my Nokia 6.2 and the Google Pixel 4a seems to start up in the 1-2 Mbps range but within seconds settle at 500kbps - almost as if T-Mobile is throttling the download. I should add that my Simple Choice plan includes 4GB of 4G/LTE ("high-speed") data each month, and I'm nowhere near my monthly cap.

Next I realized that I was going to have to leave T-Mobile after nearly 15 years as a customer, so I needed to try an MVNO first. After looking at Google Fi and other MVNOs I decided it would be interested to try the lowest-price well-rated MVNO that uses the same T-Mo towers - Mint Mobile. I received a SIM card set up for a free 7-day trial tested it in my backyard. First I verified the T-Mobile SIM in my Nokia 6.2 was testing at 0.5Mbps download, then I hot-swapping in the Mint Mobile SIM. It was pulling 17Mbps download. I hot-swapped the T-Mobile SIM and was back to 0.5Mbps down.

Additional screenshots documenting this test are in the same album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/b2Q4FVcBA4pJtZHV7

Have you tried getting a brand new SIM card from T-Mobile and then using that to test the speed? Because sometimes it can solely be just the SIM card that needs to be replaced and then it can fix everything. I'm not saying that's the cause, but you should at least attempt that so you can at least rule it out.

Sure did - as i wrote in my original post: "the store rep destroyed my SIM card and burned me a new one". It didn't help. Appreciate the thought, though, because you're absolutely correct that a new SIM card can often fix phone problems.

Badge

I'm in the Houston area - I pull 300-600 megs down, consistently. Recently went back to Austin to visit, and I was getting either total failures to connect or dial-up speeds in most of the area. Horrible experience! I have no idea what is going on with the Austin infrastructure but it's the opposite of my experience in Houston on T-Mobile.

It's very weird, that's for sure. I've had no sub-1mbps issues since I switched to Mint (which of course is the T-Mobile physical infrastructure) but it's often true that my 4G/LTE download speeds drop down to 3-5mbps in areas where it should be more like 20mbps+. Still not sure if that's MVNO throttling or just general T-Mobile fuppuckery.

Reply