600mhz/Band 71 confusion

  • 26 September 2017
  • 43 replies

Back in August when T-Mo "lit up" their first 600mhz network they stated:

"T-Mobile today also shared additional details of its 600 MHz LTE network rollout. This year alone, additional 600 MHz sites are slated for locations including Wyoming, Northwest Oregon, West Texas, Southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, Western North Dakota, Maine, Coastal North Carolina, Central Pennsylvania, Central Virginia and Eastern Washington."

Great! That covers where I live (Central PA) so we should start seeing some 600mhz/Band 71 by the end of 2017.

However, when I look at their different phases of 600mhz roll out on howmobileworks.com (which I just discovered), it shows my area as Phase 4 sometime in 2019.  So what's the deal?

I'm in the market for a new phone.  I'm a huge fan of the Nexus line, currently using a Nexus 6P and was looking forward to a Pixel 2 XL.  But seeing as Band 71 was supposedly starting to roll out in my area by the end of this year and the Pixel not likely to support Band 71, and wanting a phone capable of utilizing this spectrum, I would then go with an LG V30.  If it's going to be two years or more until we see any 600mhz, then it really doesn't matter what phone I get as I usually upgrade every two years.

43 replies

Userlevel 7
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T-Mobile promised to vacate 98% of all the spectrum they purchased by 2017, but realistically they can't deploy all of it all at once.  That will take time to roll it out.  A lot of news sites misread what was stated by T-Mobile press release and believed they'd roll it all out by 2017 which IS impossible as 3GPP didn't finalize the spectrum and hardware until very recently.

Here's the deal. As long as there's a 6 MHz buffer between an incumbent TV station's signal and both the up and down-links used by the cellular signal, the licensee (e.g. T-Mobile) can deploy service. I happen to have looked at the situation wrt State College, PA a few days ago. I forgot the details but there is just one TV station there in the channels 38-50. T-Mobile could deploy at least 10x10 600 MHz around this station. This does not say that they will or when they will, just that they could.

In general, it's not enough to just look at the maps on RabbitEars to see that an area is blocked, you also have to look at which channels are blocking which bands. Since TV stations licenses are 6 MHz wide and the wireless licenses are 5x5, there's not a 1-to-1 correspondence between TV station signals and 600 MHz wireless blocks.

I realize they can't roll it out everywhere at once.

The quote is directly from the T-Mo site.  They said Central PA by the end of 2017 which tells me at least some of the area would get it.

The info on howmobileworks.com then shows it not rolling out in PA until 2019.

So they are contradicting themselves.  I would just like to know for certain so I can make the proper phone choice.  I would guess not until 2019 so it doesn't really matter what phone I have until after that time.

T-Mobile's initial 600 MHz roll-out animation was somewhat simplistic.

Userlevel 6

Hiya, @gadgetguru​! We don't have details on all plans, but our internal map does frequently show plans for specific areas if they're near-future. Is there a ZIP I can check for you?

- Marissa

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Honestly, I would buy the LG v30 since its a solid phone that fully supports the T-mobile network. This way if band 71 does get ruled out you will be able to support the extra coverage. However I get the want for the pixel since it is stock android with reliable updates. It's just that no one can really know for certain when the rollout will happen. Everyone is basically just speculating at this point but from my experience it will probably take into mid of next year. T-mobile tends to be a bit generous (like all carriers) with expected coverage.

Userlevel 5

Hey, @gadgetguru !

I know you're really looking forward to added coverage in PA. If you can provide us a specific zip code, we can take a look to see if any of the towers have planned maintenance to be upgrade.

Keep us posted!

No specific zip code, I live, work, and travel in different areas.

You are right, the 600mhz rollout is speculation and really an unknown regardless of what T-Mo puts out.  So I went with what I know, that the Pixel 2 is a great phone (although outrageously expensive), it's what I like, and I get to stick with the Nexus/Pixel line up (pure Android, latest version of Android, etc.).  I can't see myself going backwards from my current Android 8.0.0 to 7.x.x.

T-Mo likes to focus on the cities, which makes sense, highest population density and opportunity to make money.  They also focus their advertising on young people, so called "millennials" I suppose, but really those under 30.  They seem to forget about the rest of us (30% of US population lives in a town or city with a population less than 50,000 and the average age is 37).  Verizon is now playing on that with their new commercials about service in rural areas. Let's hope in a few (more) years things improve and maybe Band 71 will be the key.  Who knows.

Verizon has been selling their coverage for some time. Remember, "Can you hear me now?" and my favorite was, (to paraphrase) "My family hates me because we got lost on a ski slope because I didn't have Verizon. Waaah!"  T-Mobile has been catching up by leaps and bounds but AT&T and Verizon have a 20-year head-start with low-band service built on licenses that were given away for free.

Userlevel 6
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I can honestly say that T-mobile coverage has been pretty solid even without band 71. Especially in 2017. Yes there are still times where I lose service or the quality is not great but for the places that do matter at least to me most ( my home town, state college, etc.) they work great and arguably better then Verizon. I hope they can match Verizon though by 2018 to 2019 in actual useable coverage by square mile. I don't care how they do it ether if its native that is optimal but if they roam that is fine to so long as its not 2g roaming.

Hey Amanda,

I have a similar situation but in central VA.  Could you check if there are any plans for 24416?


The area between Lexington and Natural Bridge already has 700 MHz. The area around Lynchburg, including the Zip you mentioned can deploy at least 15x15 of 600 MHz now. The question is, "What sort of priority will this area get?"

Thanks for the information.  I get good reception in Lexington and on most of I-81 but service is really spotty over the ridge in Buena Vista.  I can occasionally get a signal outdoors but hardly ever indoors  I've been limping by for a few years using WiFi and a CellSpot but would love to have reliable service around town.  Is there any way to "vote" or otherwise influence the priority that an area receives?

I hear that Sprint gets a decent signal in town.  Maybe the rumored merger will provide more immediate results.

It might do some good to tweet Neville Ray. I don't know. I've been complaining about one spot for over 15 years with no results.

Userlevel 6
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A merger if it did happen would still take time and would honestly be bad overall.

We've been with T-Mo over 10 years, don't plan on changing.  They're far from perfect, but we've been happy for the most part.  Coverage around my home and work is good.  Indoors at work, data is very poor and phone is not a whole lot better.  My work is at a Military post and from my experience traveling to many different Military facilities, T-Mo service sucks on Military posts.  The coverage map shows great, 4g LTE service on different posts, but the reality is there is zero service usually.  Makes things frustrating when you are away from home for weeks or months.  That's where I would really like to see improvement.

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well thank you for your service. I have a lot of friends and family who serve as well and go to see them sometimes when they are stationed in the states or if it is somewhere i can afford to go. I can honestly say most cell service sucks on base in my experience and that is due to  the special restrictions and such that apply. Although generally speaking AT&T gave me the best luck. Anywho hopefully things will get better.

Hi Marissa,

Can you also kindly check both Chicago and the surrounding suburbs like Schaumburg and Arlington Heights please??

Thank You!!

Hi Amanda,

Can you also kindly check both Chicago and the surrounding suburbs like Schaumburg and Arlington Heights please??

Thank You!!

WTTW on RF channel 47 pretty well blocks band-71 deployment in the Chicago area. They're not scheduled to repack to channel 25 until something like Phase 6. The Chicago market will not fully clear until at least Phase 8 in early 2020.

Wow. Well I just ordered the locked T-Mobile LG V30 yesterday online. Too bad I very likely won't still have the phone in 2020. lol

Yet another hassle just like with Band 12..........had to wait for an agreement to be made with AT&T to use the spectrum around here before it got deployed. Super annoying, but whatever. I am still happy with Band 12 at least. It HAS made a difference. Just wish Band 71 was coming a lot sooner. Even a year from now would be fine. But 2020 is ridiculous.

Thanks drnewcomb2.

Userlevel 6
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Well at least when you travel across the country you will have the peace of mind that your phone will support all the network.

Yeah................which I never do. lol Fortunately T-Mobile is FANTASTIC in pretty much all parts of the Chicago area now, thanks in part to Band 12.

Userlevel 6
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If you think about it you should message me your thoughts on the phone. I'm rocking the GS8 and like it for the most part. I'm just annoyed by the slow updates.