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Official Tmobile-Sprint merger discussion thread


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15 minutes ago, Paynefanbro said:

It's super dependent on where you live. In NYC since most cell sites are on top of buildings, you can look at public building permits and usually they're listed as "-AL" which is an alteration permit. In the notes they'll usually talk about "telecommunications equipment". Very rarely is that actually carrier named though.

On the other hand for Greenville, NC where I visit family pretty often, you can search the public permit database for any carrier and find all permits for that specific carrier. Searching for T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, or U.S. Cellular beings up permits for their sites and lists all changes that are going to be made to the site from backhaul upgrades to antennas changes and cabinet replacements.

I don't even know where to look  lol  but I live in Somerset, KY  if that helps

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2 minutes ago, DerekKY1980 said:

 

I don't even know where to look  lol  but I live in Somerset, KY  if that helps

Smaller towns and cities are harder to find permits if they're even required. Louisville doesn't require permits for most upgrades so there's not much to track up here. T-Mobile should get better down there once they start converting keep sites and hopefully add some new sites as well. The last time I was down there I hit several Sprint's sites broadcasting the 312-250 "keep" PLMN and had quite a bit of AT&T roaming as well, especially on the stretch of 27 from Stanford to just north of Somerset. 

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So, on the Big Island T-Mobile isn't much worse than VZW on coverage, though there are gaps in the more rural north of the island, and seems to do better on speeds. 20x20 n71 with 15x15 each of B66 and B2 will do that. Guessing spectrum config is consistent across all islands, as I'm seeing similar in Maui. Actually saw 312-250 10x10 B25 at the big aquarium here, but 5G is pretty widespread as things go, and thanks to lower demand at the moment clocks in at 100+ Mbps pretty consistently.

Don't think I've seen B41 312-250 on Maui at all, but I didn't make it to the NW side of the island, nor anywhere east of the airport. There's more 312-250 on the Big Island, I think. Including some areas where 1x800 is handy (but service dropped even with that).

VZW already seems to be pretty heavily loaded in the touristy parts of Maui, but I haven't swapped my Visible SIM in, so that may just be on sub-6 non-CBRS. Their map doesn't show mmW here though. Certainly enough density in the resort areas to merit it.

 

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On 5/29/2021 at 12:37 PM, DerekKY1980 said:

 

I don't even know where to look  lol  but I live in Somerset, KY  if that helps

You could always try walking into your town or counties building permit office and asking.  They likely track at least new sites.  Make certain you tell them you like 5g and are trying to see when you will get it.

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Back from my whirlwind Hawaii tour and have a few more things to report.

Oahu has the most mature n41 deployment I've seen yet. While it's not everywhere, its outdoor coverage in Honolulu is significant, such that it's hard to find n71 unless you're at the airport. Also saw n41 at the BYU campus. Interestingly, I was able to keep n41 down to even negative SNRs, which is the first time I've seen that happen. Speeds with good signal were in excess of 500 Mbps, though that's pretty obviously backhaul limited, as Oahu has a full 100 MHz live already, even though I'm pretty sure Sprint still has 3CA B41 there as well. This feat is even more impressive given that C-Band flat-out doesn't exist for mobile in Hawaii...it's the one market that didn't even get auctioned off because the existing satellite providers still need all that spectrum.

I also confirmed B26+26 CA, with 26 as the primary and 25 at 10x10, on Oahu, though this CA config was fleeting. This was on a non-keep (312-530) site. So...I guess that means that AlcaLu gear can do 25+26 CA? Also saw 25+41 CA along the trip, but that's less interesting in the scheme of things.

By contrast, on Kauai Sprint seems to cover more geography than T-Mobile by a significant amount, with B25 10x10 on 312-250 reaching over 15 miles in some cases if Timing Advance values are to be believed. Actually wound up in a number of areas where 1x (PCS or even 800) survived when LTE didn't, and 1x800 was a few db stronger than VZW's CDMA 850 signal, which in turn reached further than VZW B13, TMo B12, or Sprint B26. T-Mobile *does* have 5G on Kauai, and where it's available speeds were solid, but we're talking about n71 here, albeit at 20x20. CellMapper said there are seven sites with 600 live, and that more or less tracks with what I saw. Of note, if you couldn't get n71, there was a very good chance B2 on T-Mobile's side was basically useless.

Going back to the Big Island for a sec, my record for Timing Advance (and thus site distance) was actually on the south side of the Big Island. 33 or so miles on B71 and B12, yet still strong enough to pull a video on YouTube. Amazing what you can do with high power output and a super low noise floor.

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Any former Sprint customers with Apple Watches who are now on T-Mobile happy with the way T-Mobile provisions the cellular Apple Watch compared to the way Sprint did it.?
On sprint it was a seamless process. You add a cellular plan on the iPhone Watch app or from the Apple Watch itself and your account shows the additional line automatically as an additional line. If you want to remove the watch plan you just reverse the process and the line gets removed automatically. With T-Mobile it's quite different. You add a line but instead of just getting an additional line on your account you get a "Digits" line. Digits is something I don't understand and there are many flavors of "Digits" lines. Looking at your account you see the "Digits" line but nowhere does it say it's associated with an Apple Watch. If you decide you don't need cellular on  the Watch for a while you can remove the plan from the iPhone app or watch but it's isn't removed from your T-Mobile account and you get an annoying popup message every time you restart the Apple watch. The only way to stop the line from being billed to to get that "Digits" line removed. The only way I found to do that is interact with one of the flavors of T-Mobile support. You'd think that would be easy but trying to delete a line usually results in a sales pitch why you should keep it. They don't seem to understand it's an Apple Watch line that is no longer used. It's basically a pain. If anyone else has gone through the line deletion process and had a better experience I'd like to hear how you did it. And if someone can point me to a comprehensive explanation of what all the different "Digits" lines are for I'd appreciate that too. I find bits and pieces here and there in T-Mobile support docs but nothing comprehensive.
Thanks in advance,
J

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DIGITS is a mess of a product family.  There are a few different "flavors," as you said:

  • The DIGITS App and Website are free and allow anyone to access their phone/text via secondary device(s).   The backend of this is also what enables Apple devices like iPads and watches to receive texts and phone calls from a primary device. (I found out through trial and error that you have to have DIGITS enabled on your line, or this just won't work.)
  • The DIGITS Wearable product is a secondary data-only line that is "paired" to a primary line (see screenshot attached for what mine looks like on the T-Mobile account site), and uses the same DIGITS backend to receive calls and texts from the primary line.
  • DIGITS Talk and Text is available as an add-on if you want a secondary phone number for whatever reason.  You have to access calls and texts to that number via the DIGITS app or some compatible Samsung phones.  I believe they're offering one free DIGITS Talk and Text line for each account these days.

As far as cancelling, yeah, T-Mobile doesn't make that easy.  I've found the best way to get quick and easy customer care from them is to use Twitter messaging with T-Force (https://twitter.com/tmobilehelp)

 

 

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I'm reasonably sure I've never seen a T-Mobile small cell outside of Baltimore, where there's a bunch of stuff on poles for all the carriers.  (I'm also not counting their Airave-equivalent in-home gear.)  Sprint, by contrast, has tons of strand-mount around, which I assume they're counting, along with a handful of small cells. 

In some places around here, that strand-mount is the only service that either Sprint or T-Mobile has.

- Trip

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4 hours ago, RedSpark said:

Interesting problem.

I can kinda see where he's coming from but I also think he's trying to downplay the significance of mmWave once again. I can only speak for NYC but T-Mobile has now merged with two companies who had massive small cell networks here. MetroPCS at the time of its merger had the largest small cell network in the city to supplement their weak macro coverage and Sprint had over 1,600 small cells in NYC by January 2019 with Sprint rapidly adding more up until the point of their merger with T-Mobile. As a result T-Mobile has something like 2,000+ small cells and 1,000+ macros in this city alone.

In my opinion, they should keep those small cells for mmWave but because there is no band plan yet for 47GHz and there are no phones with n258 in the U.S. right now, they can't really deploy their mmWave holdings to their full potential. Once they can get a band plan and equipment for all of their spectrum, they're going to wish they kept all of those small cells because they'd have the resources to build a mmWave network easily rivaling and even potentially surpassing Verizon's.

Edit: I also think it's funny how he's saying this but we're seeing T-Mobile deploy more Band 2/66 small cells and even LAA small cells in NYC as recently as this year. Maybe they have a contract to fulfill or maybe they're not being honest about the role of small cells in their network going forward and are trying to lower expectations.

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20 hours ago, Trip said:

I'm reasonably sure I've never seen a T-Mobile small cell outside of Baltimore, where there's a bunch of stuff on poles for all the carriers.  (I'm also not counting their Airave-equivalent in-home gear.)  Sprint, by contrast, has tons of strand-mount around, which I assume they're counting, along with a handful of small cells. 

In some places around here, that strand-mount is the only service that either Sprint or T-Mobile has.

- Trip

Who are they using for strand mount gear? Airspan? B41 2CA only or something else? I missed out on that whole discussion because AFAIK strand mount doesn't exist for cell service here (though we have it for CableWiFi).

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16 hours ago, Paynefanbro said:

Edit: I also think it's funny how he's saying this but we're seeing T-Mobile deploy more Band 2/66 small cells and even LAA small cells in NYC as recently as this year. Maybe they have a contract to fulfill or maybe they're not being honest about the role of small cells in their network going forward and are trying to lower expectations.

My guess is that SCs will get concentrated in areas where they flat-out need the capacity. Where I believe Sprint was throwing MiniMacros (which TMo may be classifying as SCs for these purposes) and similar gear in areas for pure cost reasons, rather than performance-centric infill.

Additionally, betting that 2/66 SCs set up for capacity will start to phase out as B/n41 on macros roll out, including MU-MIMO. 100% agree that in places like NYC, there may be a use case for mmW SCs, though TMo probably wants to see what they can do with mmW added to macros first, as shoving wired backhaul in the direction of one supersite is less of a pain than running it to sites every block.

Actually rather curious, for the existing 2/66 SCs, what backhaul tops out at. If they can't cost-effectively get more than 100-200 Mbps, the SCs are a liability going forward.

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13 minutes ago, iansltx said:

Who are they using for strand mount gear? Airspan? B41 2CA only or something else? I missed out on that whole discussion because AFAIK strand mount doesn't exist for cell service here (though we have it for CableWiFi).

I'm not sure, but based on the pictures I found online of the Airspan, I believe so.  I have a picture of one somewhere, but it's not handy.

I know it's only a single B41 carrier though.  Used to be on an EARFCN shared with one of the two values used for small cells here, but is now sitting on one of the macro EARFCNs.  Small cells have been shrunk from 2x20 MHz to a single smaller-than-20 MHz carrier.

- Trip

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18 hours ago, Paynefanbro said:

I can kinda see where he's coming from but I also think he's trying to downplay the significance of mmWave once again. I can only speak for NYC but T-Mobile has now merged with two companies who had massive small cell networks here. MetroPCS at the time of its merger had the largest small cell network in the city to supplement their weak macro coverage and Sprint had over 1,600 small cells in NYC by January 2019 with Sprint rapidly adding more up until the point of their merger with T-Mobile. As a result T-Mobile has something like 2,000+ small cells and 1,000+ macros in this city alone.

In my opinion, they should keep those small cells for mmWave but because there is no band plan yet for 47GHz and there are no phones with n258 in the U.S. right now, they can't really deploy their mmWave holdings to their full potential. Once they can get a band plan and equipment for all of their spectrum, they're going to wish they kept all of those small cells because they'd have the resources to build a mmWave network easily rivaling and even potentially surpassing Verizon's.

Edit: I also think it's funny how he's saying this but we're seeing T-Mobile deploy more Band 2/66 small cells and even LAA small cells in NYC as recently as this year. Maybe they have a contract to fulfill or maybe they're not being honest about the role of small cells in their network going forward and are trying to lower expectations.

If I recall correctly, those Sprint small cells were limited to 2XCA on Band 41?

What you say makes sense. T-Mobile would be wise to keep those locations for eventual rollout of mmWave.

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Hey all

I  sent an email Wednesday evening to Mike Sievert  CEO of T-Mobile about upgrades in my area.  Lastnight (Thursday) I got a call back from a guy in TX  named Marcus  who said that  T-Mo was currently doing tower modernizations in my area and that they would be starting upgrades next month.   What does tower modernizations intail exactly?    My friend said  that just means upgrades  but if so that makes no sense to me    Can someone explain?

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2 hours ago, DerekKY1980 said:

Hey all

I  sent an email Wednesday evening to Mike Sievert  CEO of T-Mobile about upgrades in my area.  Lastnight (Thursday) I got a call back from a guy in TX  named Marcus  who said that  T-Mo was currently doing tower modernizations in my area and that they would be starting upgrades next month.   What does tower modernizations intail exactly?    My friend said  that just means upgrades  but if so that makes no sense to me    Can someone explain?

Modernization is T-Mobile language for upgrades.

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14 hours ago, RedSpark said:

If I recall correctly, those Sprint small cells were limited to 2XCA on Band 41?

Yup! But T-Mobile has reduced them to a single 10MHz carrier now.

16 hours ago, iansltx said:

Actually rather curious, for the existing 2/66 SCs, what backhaul tops out at. If they can't cost-effectively get more than 100-200 Mbps, the SCs are a liability going forward.

I'm 99% sure that nearly all small cells here, regardless of carrier, are all fiber fed though. It's just a matter of provisioning.The newer 2/66 small cells I've encountered are generally pretty fast though not 100-200Mbps. Usually they're 50-60Mbps but I don't think that's a limitation of backhaul as much as the equipment in use here. New York has really strict small cell regulations that limit the kind of hardware that can be used.

 

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Has anyone heard word of how T-Mobile is approaching Sprint's in-building DAS systems?  We've got an older system at work that has the "big three" carriers from the early-2010s on it... so AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.  😜

I've been back to the office a couple of times and I eventually roam onto it when I'm in the bowels of the building, but my T-Mobile iPhone 12 Pro prefers the outdoor macro network, so I assume that they haven't added 312-250 yet.  It's PCS-only for Sprint as far as I can tell.

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1 hour ago, dewbertdc said:

Has anyone heard word of how T-Mobile is approaching Sprint's in-building DAS systems?  We've got an older system at work that has the "big three" carriers from the early-2010s on it... so AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.  😜

I've been back to the office a couple of times and I eventually roam onto it when I'm in the bowels of the building, but my T-Mobile iPhone 12 Pro prefers the outdoor macro network, so I assume that they haven't added 312-250 yet.  It's PCS-only for Sprint as far as I can tell.

You could try emailing Mike Sievert and asking about that DAS and if they have any plans for it or other legacy Sprint DAS builds. He's shared his email publicly on Twitter:

DerekKY1980 heard back on his email to Sievert about network upgrades pretty quickly. Curious what you hear back on it. Please share if you do!

Edited by RedSpark
Clarity
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14 hours ago, Paynefanbro said:

Yup! But T-Mobile has reduced them to a single 10MHz carrier now.

I'm 99% sure that nearly all small cells here, regardless of carrier, are all fiber fed though. It's just a matter of provisioning.The newer 2/66 small cells I've encountered are generally pretty fast though not 100-200Mbps. Usually they're 50-60Mbps but I don't think that's a limitation of backhaul as much as the equipment in use here. New York has really strict small cell regulations that limit the kind of hardware that can be used.

 

If there's an equipment restriction limiting MIMO rank or similar, would make sense for TMo to phase them out in favor of macros, then come back in with mmW later if capacity constraints merit it.

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15 hours ago, RedSpark said:

You could try emailing Mike Sievert and asking about that DAS and if they have any plans for it or other legacy Sprint DAS builds. He's shared his email publicly on Twitter:

DerekKY1980 heard back on his email to Sievert about network upgrades pretty quickly. Curious what you hear back on it. Please share if you do!

Thanks, I might do that.  I want to talk to the folks who run the DAS before I engage an external vendor - they're my colleagues and I don't want to step on their toes!  As far as I know, they haven't had any communications from T-Mobile on changes.

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