TmoNews is reporting that T-Mobile USA is shutting down its HSPA network on the AWS band in 24 markets this year. Technically the shutdown is of UMTS, which includes HSPA and HSPA+, which are the 3G and pre-LTE 4G standards for GSM networks.
The AWS band, which is also called the 1700 Mhz band, 1700/2100 or band 4 is where T-Mobile first deployed 3G HSPA in 2008. AWS is also where T-Mobile launched LTE service in 2013 and is still its main LTE band. Until now, T-Mobile has run both LTE and HSPA on the AWS band.
Most of T-Mobile's newer handsets support LTE and T-Mobile has been gradually switching spectrum from HSPA to LTE to meet demand. Now, for the first time, T-Mobile is completely eliminating HSPA on AWS in a number of major markets. Here's a list of the affected markets and their shutdown dates:
Indianapolis, February 25th
Louisville, May 18th
Chicago, June 18th
Houston, July 15th
Los Angeles, July 22nd
Albuquerque, July 25th
El Paso, July 25th
Oklahoma City, July 27th
Savannah (Jacksonville), July 27th
Baton Rouge (Mobile), July 27th
Columbus (Atlanta), July 27th
Griffin (Atlanta), July 27th
Charleston (Carolina), July 27th
Kansas City, August 3rd
Roanoke (Virginia), August 3rd
St. Louis, August 5th
Nogales (Phoenix), August 10th
Madera (Sacramento), August 10th
Boise City (SLC), August 10th
Del Rio & Kingsville (Austin), August 10th
Miami, August 20th
Laredo (Austin), August 20th
Biloxi, Hattiesburg (Mobile), August 20th
Anniston, AL (Birmingham), August 20th
If you're worried about the shutdown affecting your service, relax. T-Mobile is not getting rid of HSPA, HSPA+ or 3G in any market. All the markets where T-Mobile is dropping AWS HSPA are ones where T-Mobile has deployed HSPA on the 1900 Mhz band as part of its network modernization project in 2013. Only HSPA on AWS is being eliminated, HSPA will still be available on the 1900 Mhz band, which all recent T-Mobile (and AT&T) phones support. If you have an LTE phone, the speed and reliability of your LTE connections should be improved in the 24 markets that are getting more LTE bandwidth.
The shutdown will only negatively affect customers with certain older non-LTE T-Mobile phones which only support 3G on AWS. Some of the better known phones that will be affected are the LG G2X, Nexus S, HTC My Touch 4G and the Samsung Exhibit 4G. Every T-Mobile phone released since 2012 supports HSPA on 1900 Mhz and will still get 3G and HSPA+ 4G. Even the affected phones will still work for talk, text, MMS and 2G and Edge data.
Here's a list of the phones and other devices that only support HSPA on the AWS band and will lose 3G data in the markets where HSPA on AWS is being shut down:
T-Mobile is offering customers whose service will be impacted a free Alcatel OneTouch Pop Astro LTE phone. To qualify you must be currently using one of the T-Mobile branded phones in one of the markets where HSPA is being shut down.
[No such luck for those on MVNOs]
According to the TmoNews article, T-Mobile will notify customers who are eligible for a free LTE phone by text message.