The Low Frequency Land Grab (And Understanding T-Mobile’s 700MHz LTE Band-12 Future)

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T_Mobile_logo_Magenta_lowAs innovative as the '#uncarrier' T-Mobile has been, it remains faced with one challenge that no amount of clever marketing and promotions can solve.

T-Mobile just doesn't own enough low-frequency bandwidth, especially compared to AT&T and Verizon.

It is the nature of radio signal propagation at work - lower frequency signals travel further, and are better able to penetrate obstacles along the way like walls and trees.

This makes low-frequency spectrum exceedingly valuable to cellular companies - it is absolutely essential to covering sparse rural areas in particular, as well as for penetrating into the interiors of buildings.

This also obviously makes low-frequency spectrum of critical interest to RVers - we tend to go places off the beaten path and away from cell towers. T-Mobile may rock the house in urban areas, but drive a bit outside of many towns and the T-Mobile signal fades away fast.

More low frequency spectrum is the only fix - but there is only so much low frequency spectrum available. And unfortunately for T-Mobile, what little that exists is dominated by the big two (Verizon and AT&T) - at least for now.

No amount of additional cell towers can make up for the severe handicap imposed by the cruel laws of physics. 

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T-Mobile-TowerFor now, Verizon and AT&T have an advantage that T-Mobile just can not equal, no matter how much it spends on building out new towers.

But things are starting to change - and T-Mobile is making a big bet on a little thing known as LTE Band 12 to at last take on the big boys on more equal footing.

How we got into this situation makes for a fascinating story, with some very interesting implications for the future.

And whatever you do - do not buy a new T-Mobile phone, tablet, or hotspot until you understand the implications.

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