T-Mobile and Sprint ‘Close’ to Finalizing Merger Deal, John Legere Said to Lead Combined Company

T-Mobile and Sprint are said to be "close to agreeing" to terms regarding a deal that would merge the third and fourth largest United States wireless carriers together. People close to the deal told Reuters that Sprint parent company SoftBank would own 40 to 50 percent of the combined company, while T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom will gain the majority stake.

The terms of the deal are expected to be finalized by the end of October, "though talks may still fall through," the two sources said. Previously, U.S. antitrust officials told Sprint that a merger with another wireless carrier would face intense scrutiny because having four major carriers in the U.S. was important to maintaining a competitive market. During those talks a few years ago the situation of the companies was reversed -- since T-Mobile had yet to gain in popularity -- with Sprint seeking to acquire T-Mobile for more than $20 billion.


Now, those concerns are said to come into play again with regulatory scrutiny expected to face any deal between Sprint and T-Mobile "over concerns that the U.S. wireless market is becoming too concentrated."
T-Mobile US Inc is close to agreeing tentative terms on a deal to merge with peer Sprint Corp, people familiar with the matter said, a major breakthrough in efforts to merge the third and fourth largest U.S. wireless carriers.

Once terms are finalized, due diligence by the two companies will follow and a deal is expected by the end of October, though talks may still fall through, the sources said.
If the merger happens, the resulting company would have revenues topping $70 billion and more than 130 million subscribers, falling in line behind the two other major U.S. carriers -- Verizon and AT&T -- in terms of subscribers.

The combined company would be led by T-Mobile CEO John Legere, according to the sources, thanks to T-Mobile outperforming Sprint under his leadership. The new company would also undertake a "massive" effort to cut costs early on.


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iPhone 8 and iPhone X Don’t Support T-Mobile’s Upcoming 600 MHz LTE Network

Apple's iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X are not compatible with LTE Band 71, aka T-Mobile's new 600 MHz spectrum the company plans on rolling out in the United States as soon as this year.

All new iPhone models in the United States support FDD-LTE Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, and 66, and TD-LTE bands 4, 38, 39, 40, and 41, according to the Tech Specs page for the devices.

Support for additional bands can't be added retroactively, so Apple's devices will not work with LTE Band 71 until support is added to future iPhones.


T-Mobile purchased the 600 MHz spectrum in an FCC auction in April of 2017. Shortly after, T-Mobile announced plans to use the spectrum to deliver 5G coverage starting in 2019, but later said it would use the spectrum to improve its network in rural America starting this year.

Unfortunately, by the time T-Mobile purchased the spectrum and announced plans for rapid implementation, the LTE chips and the hardware for the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X were likely already secured, giving Apple no time to build in support for a newly announced LTE band.


T-Mobile in August activated the first 600 MHz LTE site in Cheyenne, Wyoming and has said it will deploy the spectrum at a "record-shattering pace" with plans to roll out 600 MHz sites in Wyoming, Northwest Oregon, West Texas, Southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, Western North Dakota, Maine, Coastal North Carolina, Central Pennsylvania, Central Virginia, and Eastern Washington, but whether T-Mobile will hit that goal and get 600 MHz support in those locations by the end of 2017 remains to be seen.

As Peter Cohen points out, deploying the 600 MHz network is a complicated, time-consuming process that will span several years, so most iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X users won't be heavily affected by the lack of support for the new LTE band at this time.
Like every other carrier, T-Mobile is entirely dependent on a nationwide industry of independent cellular tower owners, operators and technicians to get their hardware deployed. Even if T-Mobile had unlimited funds to get a 600 MHz network up and running, there simply aren't enough people in the industry who can climb the towers, install the new hardware, test it and get it working for them. What we're talking about is a huge infrastructure effort that goes way beyond just flipping a switch and turning it on.
T-Mobile says Band 71 adds increased building penetration and covers greater distances. When used in metro areas, it improves in-building coverage, and in rural areas, it improves the company's LTE footprint.

There are no existing devices that support T-Mobile's new spectrum at this time. Like Apple's newest devices, for example, Samsung's Galaxy S8 and new Galaxy Note 8 do not offer support. T-Mobile has said that LG and Samsung will launch devices compatible with the spectrum by the end of the year, and LG's upcoming LG V30 will be one of the first devices to support it.

Related Roundups: iPhone 8, iPhone X
Tag: T-Mobile
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)

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Apple Watch Series 3 Limited to 3G-Like Speeds on T-Mobile

Apple's new Apple Watch Series 3 models support LTE and UMTS connectivity, but on T-Mobile, LTE connection speeds won't be available. The carrier is limiting the Apple Watch to a maximum speed of 512kb/s, which is more like a 3G connection than an LTE connection.

The speed limitation is noted in T-Mobile's fine print, which says the maximum wearables speed is 512kb/s. It's also noted on the pre-order page when adding an Apple Watch Series 3 to your cart.


At issue is T-Mobile's ONE plan, which limits both tethering and all wearable devices to 512kb/s. While most users are unlikely to be streaming video or doing other tasks that require high connectivity speeds on the Apple Watch, the Apple Watch is also unlikely to be a data hog, so it's unclear why T-Mobile has this limitation in place.

No other major carrier in the United States, including Sprint, Verizon, or AT&T appears to be throttling Apple Watch speeds.

All four of the carriers are charging the same $10 per month fee to add an Apple Watch to an existing iPhone plan, and each one is offering a limited time promotion that waives monthly fees for the first three months.

The LTE Apple Watch Series 3 models became available for pre-order early this morning, with new devices slated to arrive on Friday, September 22, the official launch date for the device.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 3, watchOS 4
Tag: T-Mobile
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

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Apple Watch Series 3: LTE Plan Prices on Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Bell, EE, and Deutsche Telekom

Apple Watch Series 3 is available with built-in cellular capabilities, allowing you to make phone calls, send and receive text messages, stream music, get directions with Apple Maps, use Siri, and more without a paired iPhone.


The freedom comes at a cost, however, as Apple Watch Series 3 models with cellular are priced $70 higher than those with Wi-Fi and GPS only. Also, to access LTE, the watch must be added to your phone bill as an additional monthly charge.

Here's a breakdown of how much participating carriers plan to charge. Some carriers have yet to announce their plans.



Verizon


Verizon said it allow customers to add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $10 per month. Verizon will reportedly waive its $30 activation fee, and is offering the first three months of service for free. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via Verizon's NumberShare feature.

AT&T


AT&T has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $10 per month. AT&T is offering a $25 activation fee credit, and a $30 service credit for adding an Apple Watch, within three bills. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via AT&T's NumberSync feature.

T-Mobile


T-Mobile has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to a plan for $10 per month with AutoPay. T-Mobile will reportedly waive its $25 new SIM card kit fee, and is offering the first three months of service for free. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via T-Mobile's DIGITS feature.

Sprint


Sprint has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $10 per month. Sprint will also offer a special introductory three-month cellular plan trial. The carrier has yet to specify whether its activation fee of up to $30 per line will be waived as well, but it would seem likely.

Bell (Canada)


Bell has announced that customers will be able to add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $5 per month. There is a one-time $10 activation fee. Bell will also offer a special introductory three-month cellular plan trial. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via Bell's NumberShare feature.

Bell will not support the Apple Watch's cellular capabilities in Manitoba or Saskatchewan due to the carrier's lack of VoLTE in those provinces.

EE (UK)


EE has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible SIM only or pay monthly plan for £5 per month, with the watch and iPhone sharing the same phone number. The carrier hasn't confirmed if it will be offering an introductory three-month trial, or if there will be an activation fee.

Deutsche Telekom (Germany)


Deutsche Telekom has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for up to €4.95 per month, with the first six months free of charge. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via Deutsche Telekom's MultiSIM feature. The carrier didn't specify if there is an activation fee.



Apple Watch Series 3 models will be available to order starting tomorrow, September 15, at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time. In-store availability begins September 22. LTE-enabled models start at $399 in the United States.


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T-Mobile Offered Fastest LTE Speeds in the First Half of 2017

T-Mobile was the carrier with the fastest mobile network in the United States during the first half of 2017, according to a new U.S. Market Report for Mobile Broadband shared this morning by Ookla.

The carrier scored a 23.17 using Ookla's new "Speed Score" metric that combines low-end, median, and top-end performance for both upload and download speeds. Ookla says this is a comprehensive metric combining all factors that "matter to a good network experience" into a single score.

Coming in after T-Mobile was Verizon, with a Speed Score of 21.13, while AT&T came in third with a score of 20.05 and Sprint brought up the rear with a score of 15.39.


According to Ookla, T-Mobile's "tightly-spaced cell site grid" and smaller subscriber base gave it an edge over Verizon and AT&T, both of whom are dealing with higher traffic loads since their unlimited plans were introduced last year.

While Verizon has managed to deliver "consistent and reliable performance" across its network despite the unlimited plans, the rollout of AT&T's unlimited plans resulted in a "notable drop in performance."

Sprint, unsurprisingly, had the slowest mobile network with a Speed Score of 15.39, despite improvements made over the course of the last year. From June of 2016 to June of 2017, Sprint LTE speeds improved by 23.7 percent, but the carrier still can't match the big three.
T-Mobile comes out on top for overall speeds and acceptable speeds at a national level and provides the fastest service in 40% of the largest cities in the U.S. Verizon Wireless has the fastest service in many of the cities we looked at and comes in first on acceptable speeds in the top 100 CMAs, but we suspect their use of depriortization on unlimited could be bringing down their overall performance.

AT&T falls near the bottom in consistency of acceptable speeds and also saw a spoke in low end speeds in Q2 2017. The slowest carrier, Sprint, struggles with consistently providing acceptable speeds but saw big gains in the first half of the year.
While the above chart information covers the United States as a whole, Ookla also compared mobile performance data in the 100 most populated Cellular Market Areas within the country. The rankings were the same, but T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless were nearly neck and neck. Across the board, users in populated cellular markets see higher speeds.


Mobile performance by carrier varies greatly from area to area, so while T-Mobile may have the best overall network speeds, AT&T or Verizon could have a significant edge depending on where a user is located. All four carriers are aggressively pursuing improved LTE speeds and network expansion through spectrum purchases, refarming legacy spectrum (like ending 3G networks), network densification, relay solutions, and other techniques.

Across all carriers in the United States, there was a 19.2 percent increase in average mobile download speeds between the first half of 2016 and the first half of 2017, with an average speed of 22.69 Mb/s.


Average mobile upload speeds didn't see quite as much improvement, coming in at 8.51 Mb/s for a four percent improvement year over year. When it comes to average mobile download speeds, the United States is ranked 44th in the world. That rank drops down to 65th for average mobile upload speed. In rural areas, performance can be significantly worse, with speeds that are 20.9 percent slower than the nation as a whole. Verizon (51.6%) and AT&T (27.3%) have far more coverage in rural areas than T-Mobile (11.5%) and Sprint (9.6%).

In addition to looking at network performance by carrier, Ookla also shared some data on LTE speeds across carriers on two popular devices: the iPhone 7 and the Galaxy S7. On T-Mobile and Sprint, broadband speeds were on average slightly faster for the Galaxy S7, with little difference on Verizon and AT&T networks.

Both the iPhone 7 and the S7 see higher mobile network speeds than other devices because they aggregate three component carriers to improve peak and average speeds. On T-Mobile, Samsung has an edge because the Galaxy S7 enables features like higher order modulation and 4-Layer MIMO.


Ookla's report is based on data gathered from its popular Speedtest Intelligence benchmark during the first half of 2017. More than 3 million unique devices performed more than 14 million user-initiated cellular network tests, giving the company a lot of data to work with to figure out trends during the year. For the S7 and iPhone 7 comparison tests, data from 250,278 iPhones was collected and compared to data from 134,742 Galaxy devices.

Additional test results covering minimum acceptable experience, the impact of unlimited data, fastest carriers by city, and more can be read in the full report.


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T-Mobile ONE Family Plans Will Include Free Netflix Subscriptions Starting September 12

T-Mobile today announced that its T-Mobile ONE family plans will come with free Netflix subscriptions beginning September 12, allowing plan members to stream Netflix content at no additional monthly charge. To qualify, users will need two or more paid voice lines on a T-Mobile ONE family plan, and if customers already pay for a Netflix subscription, the un-carrier will cover the cost of the standard price: "meaning you’ll save nearly $120 every year."


This means that users who take advantage of the offer will get Netflix's $9.99/month, 2-screen subscription plan at no additional cost.

The company is calling the new addition "Netflix On Us," and described it as a way for T-Mobile to tackle "one of the biggest customer pain points" in mobile networking contracts, which is bigger bundles at increased prices. T-Mobile said that while other carrier bundles are about including some features users want and some they don't, with the end goal of increased monthly prices, Netflix On Us adds a service that most T-Mobile customers already use at no extra cost.
“The future of mobile entertainment is not about bolting a satellite dish to the side of your house or resuscitating faded 90s dotcoms. The future is mobile, over-the-top and unlimited,” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. “While the carriers spend billions on their franken-strategies to cobble together carrier–cable–content mashups, the Un-carrier just leapfrogged them all by partnering with the best and giving it to customers at no extra charge. Because that’s what we always do. Give more to you without asking more from you.”

“This is the right move at the right time — for all the right reasons,” said Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix. “More and more fans are bingeing on mobile, so we’re bringing together Netflix’s award-winning TV shows and movies with T-Mobile’s award-winning, unlimited network.”
T-Mobile ONE customers with unlimited everything can also now add Netflix On Us, as well as customers with free lines from T-Mobile's recent "line-on-us" deals. To celebrate the new partnership, T-Mobile is launching a Twitter "meme-a-thon" tomorrow, September 7, where users will be able to enter to win smartphones, Netflix and T-Mobile swag, and BingeBoxes filled with "bingeing essentials" by responding to the company's Twitter account with Netflix show quotes, GIFs, and memes.


For more information about Netflix On Us, visit T-Mobile's website right here.


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New ‘T-Mobile Unlimited 55+’ Plan for Seniors Offers 2 Lines for $60 a Month

T-Mobile today announced the launch of a new T-Mobile ONE Unlimited 55+ plan, which is designed for seniors that are over the age 55.

Starting on August 9, T-Mobile subscribers that are 55 or older can purchase two lines of T-Mobile ONE unlimited service for $60, with all taxes and fees included. T-Mobile's standard two line price is $100 per month ($50 per line), so this is a significant discount for seniors.

"For years, the carriers have been patronizing the generation that invented wireless. They thank these mobile pioneers by selling dumbed down 'senior' plans with exactly zero data and -- get this -- night and weekend minutes! That's not just idiotic -- it's insulting!" said Legere. "Today, the Un-carrier ends this ridiculousness with T-Mobile ONE Unlimited 55+ -- an offer that recognizes how Boomers and beyond actually use their smartphones!"
To get the $60 price, customers must be over 55, and must enable Autopay using a debit card or bank account. It's $50 for the first line, $10 for the second line, and unlimited everything with a $5 per line Autopay discount.

T-Mobile's new plans will be available starting on Wednesday, August 9. New customers can sign up by visiting a T-Mobile store, while existing customers can get the new plan by calling T-Mobile, visiting the website, or heading to a T-Mobile store.

Tag: T-Mobile

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T-Mobile Will Pay Off Your iPhone If You Switch From Verizon

T-Mobile today introduced a limited time promotion to encourage Verizon customers with select iPhone models to switch to their network.


Starting May 31, when a Verizon customer with an iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, or iPhone SE brings their smartphone to T-Mobile, they'll be able to keep the device, and have any remaining monthly payments owing towards it paid off in full, whether it's $1 or $1,000.

The catch is that Verizon customers will be required to pay $15 per month for T-Mobile's Premium Device Protection Plus insurance program in addition to their new T-Mobile ONE plan. The insurance program protects an iPhone from loss, theft, and accidental damage, and provides AppleCare+ perks.

The offer will be available at T-Mobile stores across the United States next week. T-Mobile says the balance of any remaining device payments will be provided in the form of a digital prepaid MasterCard in approximately 15 to 30 days.


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T-Mobile to Stop Offering 200MB of Free Data for New iPad Owners

When T-Mobile first began offering cellular iPads in the fall of 2013, the company included a plan that provided customers with 200MB of free LTE data each month for the life of the tablet, a promotion that is now coming to an end.

As noted by TmoNews, T-Mobile has updated its Free Data for Life support page to note that the program is no longer available for new activations as of May 7, 2017. Customers who signed up for Free Data for Life on or before May 6, 2017, are able to keep the 200MB data plan with their current iPads so long as they continue to be T-Mobile subscribers.


T-Mobile's free data plan has always been tied to a specific device rather than an account, so when upgrading to a new iPad, customers who use Free Data for Life will not be able to keep the data plan. Going forward, no new tablets that are released will be eligible for the program.
Important: As of May 7, 2017, Free Data for Life is no longer available for new activations. If you signed up for FDFL on or before May 6, 2017, you can keep it with your current tablet as long as you own and use your tablet with T-Mobile.
Free Data for Life was originally introduced as one of T-Mobile's Un-carrier initiatives, and T-Mobile was the only company to offer a free data plan for iPads.

T-Mobile currently offers just one data plan, T-Mobile One, with unlimited data. T-Mobile One customers can add a tablet to their plans for $20 per month.

Tag: T-Mobile

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T-Mobile Teases Plans to Launch Nationwide 5G Network in U.S. Within Three Years

T-Mobile today said it plans to roll out a 5G network in the United States starting in 2019, with a target of 2020 for full nationwide coverage.


The third-largest U.S. carrier said it will use part of its newly acquired 600 MHz low-band spectrum to deliver 5G coverage from coast to coast.
“The 600 MHz spectrum will allow 5G to be deployed nationwide, bringing the ultimate experiences to T-Mobile’s enterprise customers and consumers throughout the United States,” said Borje Ekholm, President and CEO, Ericsson. “We will support T-Mobile US with 5G radio development for this spectrum. Commercial availability of the product will be aligned with 3GPP standardization and ecosystem support.”
5G networks will pave the way for faster data speeds and lower latency on smartphones and other cellular-enabled devices. Last year, AT&T said it reached speeds above 10 gigabits per second in early 5G lab trials, and it has even promised speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G LTE.

5G isn't expected to become a reality until at least next year, as 3GPP is still working to establish the first set of 5G standards by 2018.
T-Mobile will help drive 3GPP certification for 5G in 600 MHz. As 5G standards are defined, chipsets are delivered, and equipment comes to market, T-Mobile will quickly deploy 5G nationwide in a large swath of unused spectrum.
T-Mobile expects the first smartphones compatible with the 600 MHz spectrum to be released later this year.

In February, Verizon said it will begin offering gigabit broadband internet over a wireless 5G connection to pilot customers in 11 select U.S. markets during the first half of 2017. AT&T is also rolling out "5G Evolution" speeds in over 20 major metro areas, but as widely reported, it's not really 5G.

Tags: T-Mobile, 5G

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