T-Mobile Speeds


SatelliteGuys Pro
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Dec 27, 2007
Chicago, IL
Last week I got the iPhone SE 2020 edition for use on T-Mobile. Upgraded from the iPhone5s. Needing to do more at home now, I wanted to get a phone that could do more things quickly. I asked T-Mobile about my speeds on the iPhone 5s and they said I couldn't take advantage of the "extended range LTE" because the iPhone 5s wasn't able to do one of their bands, 61 or 71 - something like that. However the iPhone SE 2020 edition can handle it and I would see speed upgrades both inside and outside my house. So I figured that I would upgrade.

I can't believe how much faster this phone is than the 5s when it comes to doing things with apps as well as having the newest IOS, so the speed aspect I am thrilled for the upgrade. But my internet speed is not faster. I did multiple speedtests using the speedtest app, and I am getting great download speeds - somewhere between 18-27 Mbps indoors, and I get 3 out of 4 bars. However, my upload is pathetic. I can't get higher than .3 Mbps. I took the phone outside and still can only get .3 up. Indoors all my tests are between .24 and .32 Mbps. It is almost identical to what I had with my iPhone 5s, which makes me think I am not taking advantage of all the frequency ranges.

Is there a way I can get faster uploads by changing settings on my phone? I have LTE enabled, unlimited data from T-Mobile. When I am right by the tower by the bike path near my house, I am getting upload of 27 Mbps, which is about 3 miles away. So I don't think it is a phone setting. Does 3 miles drop my upload by that much? I am shocked I couldn't be on a simple zoom meeting on my iPhone as the upload wasn't enough for people on the other end to hear me.

Any thoughts anyone would have would be helpful!
What kind of connection does your phone say that it has when you're at home?

No available Apple device (and apparently not the models released later this year either) will offer 5G support that will occupy the 61-72 bands (the frequencies being vacated by the TV broadcasters as part of the repack).

Modern 4G towers cover about a 10 mile radius so three miles could easily make a difference depending on both total distance and obstructions. 5G towers using 2.4GHz reportedly cover only a 1000' radius. 5G in the 61-72 range should penetrate much better but that won't help your iPhone.

The hard part, especially with Tmobile, is that any build-out they do from here on out is mostly going to be 5G. It isn't clear if they have a program for infill of poorly covered 4G.
Band 71 is 600 MHz, which will give you greater distance, better building penetration, but slower speeds. If you are getting nearly 30 Mbps up when near the tower, you are connecting to either band 2 or 4. When you are at home, you are out of range of band 2 or 4, and either connecting to band 71 or band 12. To be under 1 Mb upload, it may be due to congestion on that band in your area.

Just as an example, I see in the ball park of 10 Down/1 Up on band 12 (700 MHz) at -95 dBm.

To get an accurate representation you will have to find out what band(s) you're connected to, whether or not CA is used, and a numerical signal strength would be more meaningful then the number of bars. And do you know for a fact band 71 is deployed in your area? It's not in mine, that's why my example is for band 12. I have no idea how to access that information on an iPhone, it might be in one of the service mode screens. I used an app called Network Signal Info to give me all of that.

And while not directly related to your situation, Yes, distance (and obstructions) will have a huge impact, especially with higher frequencies. When talking three miles you might as well be on another planet. For an extreme example of this look no further than Verizon's mmWave 5G. 28 GHz and 39 GHz can give you 1 - 2 Gbps if you are within eyesight of the node, but as soon as you start to walk away from it, the speed drops with every footstep you take and as soon as you enter a building you lose it and are back to LTE
Thanks for this great info! I love the technical aspects of this. My phone does say LTE on it. Inside is 2 bars, outside is 3 bars. The nearest tower is about 3 miles away. I do live in a wooded area so based off of what I am hearing, that could be impacting it. I was hoping that after talking with T-Mobile that the upgrade to the newer phone with access to this "extended LTE" range would have fixed my speed issue, but it is literally identical speeds to my iPhone5s. So whatever bands have been added to the newer iPhone, it doesn't appear to be using them.
Extended LTE is nothing but a T-Mobile marketing term for their 600 and 700 MHz networks. It's very possible you are like me, your area has 700 MHz, but not 600 MHz. Again, I would figure out a way to find out what band you're connected to.

If you find this stuff interesting, here's two links from Phone Arena, one on LTE and one on NR and what carriers use what frequencies.

And I typically don't care for Reddit, but this is a nice summary on all things technical about the T-Mobile network.

Long term, T-Mobile is in a nice position to offer consistent, meaningful 5G NR. They're already using Sprint's 2.5 GHz spectrum to give the Philadelphia midband 5G
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Keep in mind nearly all consumer accounts have much slower upload speeds than download speeds. To get identical upload as download, here, I have to select the middle and upper tier of a business account status with Comcast and then it is only via their wifi at home with their modems. When I closed my streaming server business, I dropped the middle tier as I no longer needed to stream video to clients. Now, I still have a Comcast Business account but the upload is 1/5 the speed of my download service. This tier is only $20 more a month than their top consumer account but I get my own AE when I call for service and service recovery within same business day.

I use Verizon on my iphones and the service is good when I have LTE but I don't notice upload problems since I don't do Facetime or skype much. AS I can recall it worked fine a couple times I did Facetime away from my wifi at home. I can't think of any other applications where upload speed would be needed.

BTW- I have an 11 Pro Max and my wife has the original SE and she does Facetime with our grandkids often. I know she loses connection every so often, but that could be the kids' ipad losing signal since at their house their wifi is very weak on the second floor. They need a repeater I think. Anyway, I've considered getting my wife a new SE later this year but she hasn't complained about the current one. I really want her to up her security with face recognition and also have wireless charging features. Haven't looked into the new SE for those two features. If not, then maybe an X is better match for her.
Consumer versus Business, it doesn't matter, LTE is not going to give you symmetrical speeds. Sprint for example, intentionally is heavy on the download on band 41. Using TDD they optimize the download while keeping the upload slower. It's not unusual to see something like 200 x 8 on Sprint's band 41. In many cases among the major cell providers, downloads speeds will exceed 150 or 200 Mbps or higher on high frequency LTE if carrier aggregation is being utilized, but I've never seen upload significantly faster than 60 Mbps. On Verizon and AT&T, with mmWave NR, upload is being handled by LTE at the moment, so it will significantly slower.

For DOCSIS cable, you will not see symmetrical speeds until DOCSIS 4 is deployed allowing for full duplex on both downstream and upstream QAM. No cable company is bonding more than 4/5 upstream channels, no cable company to my knowledge using using OFDM on the upstream. Consumer or business it doesn't matter, it's the same infrastructure. If you have symmetrical speeds on Comcast, it's with their dedicated fiber offerings, not the business class version of their cable modem service. That maxes out at the same 940 x 35 as the consumer equivalent.
EarDemon- Did you not read this whole sentence:

Now, I still have a Comcast Business account but the upload is 1/5 the speed of my download service.

I did not mention that locally, Comcast consumer throttles the speeds for each customer. I can run 4 simultaneous 4K streams down load on my account and the speed remains at 95-100 Mbs. It's been that way since I downgraded my service and cancelled my streaming video server. I did not have the top tier which was a dedicated fiber to the house. But I know my neighbors complain to me about their speed during the evening prime time streaming hours. I never have a problem. They get throttled, I don't. I was told that unless you can show a corporate address they will not simply setup a business account for a residence.

I still have two streaming video servers on old 5 year contracts that are due to expire this year. One is with Host Rocket and the other is with Network Solutions. But both are dormant since I retired. Hosting half hour TV shows was quite a nice easy income but it all fell apart when Google bought YouTube and put all of us out of business.
Now that most cable operators have cleared TV channels out of the VHF bands, much more is possible in the upstream realm. OFDM presents some important opportunities for efficiency and I'm betting efficiency is cheaper than plant.
Thanks for all this info - I am going to jump into the techy details.

One other question - the new iPhone SE 2020 - is the power button on the side as easy to push down as the volume buttons by design? Or is mine jammed?

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