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T-Mobile USA, Inc.
Type Private (Subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom)
Founded 2001 as Voicestream Wireless
Headquarters United States Bellevue, Washington
Area served United States (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands)
Key people Robert Dotson – President and CEO
Rob Strickland- CIO
Industry Wireless Services
T-Mobile branch office, San Juan, Puerto Rico

T-Mobile USA is a cellular telecommunications provider and the United States based subsidiary of T-Mobile International AG, itself based in Bonn, Germany. It was formed from 4 U.S. companies, VoiceStream Wireless, Ariel, Omni Point and Powertel (VoiceStream acquired Ariel, Omni Point and Powertel before T-mobile acquired it). In May 2001, VoiceStream was acquired by Deutsche Telekom for US$24 billion, and in September 2002 the combined U.S. company's name changed to T-Mobile. Headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, T-Mobile USA is currently the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. market with 33.4 million customers as of the end of the third quarter of 2009 and annual revenue of US$21.9 billion for their 2008 fiscal year.[1]

T-Mobile USA tends to compete on price and advertises heavily to the youth market.[2] Historically, they have also pioneered new features; they were the first U.S. carrier to launch a ringback tones service nationally (CallerTunes), video messaging and "HiFi Ringers" (ringtones which are clips of an actual song), and they became the first company to use and promote the Android mobile operating system from Google, with the launch of the G1.

As of 2007, T-Mobile USA has captured at least 11 J.D. Power Awards in the areas of customer care, call quality, and overall customer satisfaction. In particular, it has dominated the wireless industry in the area of customer care and customer satisfaction, winning all customer care and satisfaction awards for all six surveyed regions for five years in a row.[3]



A T-Mobile store in San Jose, California

Through acquisitions of Aerial, APT, Digiph PCS, Eliska, General Cellular Corp, GSM Alliance, Intercel, Omnipoint, Pacific Northwest Cellular, Powertel, SOL Wireless, SunCom Wireless, Voicestream, Western PCS, GSM Facilities[4], and Western Wireless, T-Mobile has added sites to its network. [5] The native T-Mobile network currently consists of 36,400 cell sites and predominantly uses the GSM/GPRS 1900 MHz frequency-band, making it the largest 1900 MHz network in the United States.[citation needed] Service is available in 46 of the top 50 US markets, reaching 244 million potential customers. By mid-2008 the network is forecast to expand to 98 of 100 largest markets and 282 million potential customers.[6][7][8]

Data service is available to most users in the form of the older General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) or newer Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE). EDGE coverage is stated as being available within at least 75% of the GSM footprint.[9] 3G service in the form of Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) is available in a few cities and is being expanded to cover most major markets. 3G (UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+) service by T-Mobile exclusively uses the AWS 1700/2100 MHz frequency-band, making it incompatible with other existing 3G UMTS/HSPA networks already established in the United States. On the 5th of January 2010, T-Mobile announced that it has upgraded its entire 3G network to HSPA 7.2Mbps which is an improvement from its previous peak of 3.6Mbps. T-Mobile also said that it plans to be the first U.S. carrier to deploy HSPA+ across its network by mid 2010. T-Mobile currently has an HSPA+ trial under way in Philadelphia. Once fully enabled, HSPA+ will offer up to 21Mbps downloads.


Although T-Mobile USA has the smallest native network of all the national U.S. carriers, it has roaming arrangements with a number of regional carriers, such as Centennial Wireless (Subsidiary of AT&T Mobility), Dobson (Subsidiary of AT&T Mobility), and Unicel (Verizon Wireless), and with the national carriers AT&T Mobility and the former Alltel (Verizon Wireless) GSM network. These carriers predominately provided service using the GSM 850 MHz band, and a dual band phone is required to use both the native and affiliate networks. When roaming on these affiliated networks airtime is deducted from the user's plan, as opposed to a surcharge, effectively expanding nationwide coverage.[10]

As of 2008, prepaid customers have almost all of the postpaid domestic roaming privileges and restricted international roaming to Canada and Mexico.[11]

While international roaming is available to most customers, it must first be activated through customer service. Once provisioned, there is no monthly fee to maintain international roaming coverage.

T-Mobile HotSpots

A T-Mobile HotSpot is a Wi-Fi based internet access point, generically called a hotspot, which provides high-speed wireless internet access to computers and electronic devices within a distance of approximately 300 ft (90 m). The T-Mobile HotSpot service operates a nationwide collection of approximately 8,350 access points, installed in venues such as Starbucks coffeehouses (which will remain unchanged in spite of Starbucks migrating to AT&T), Borders Books and Music stores, FedEx Kinko's Office and Print Centers, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, Red Roof Inns, Sofitel and Novotel Hotels, the airline clubs of American Airlines, Delta, United Airlines and US Airways, and throughout a few airports and/or airport terminals.[12]

The service was formed in 2002 when T-Mobile USA acquired the assets of MobileStar, a bankrupt wireless ISP that had been installing a collection of access points in venues such as Starbucks coffee shops, Hilton Hotels, and in American Airlines Admiral Club since 1998. Branded as T-Mobile HotSpots, the service was initially expanded into 400 Borders bookstores, as well as 100 of the most-frequented airport clubs and lounges operated by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines.[13][14]

Unlimited HotSpot Calling and @Home

T-Mobile's Unlimited HotSpot Calling service is a Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) service that enables a wireless handset to make and receive calls via an internet-connected Wi-Fi network instead of the cellular network. The service was an add-on feature costing $9.99 on an existing plan (paying $39.99 and up). This fee allowed for basic unlimited calling to any number in the US from any compatible open Wi-Fi network worldwide, as well as US T-Mobile HotSpot locations.[15] The Unlimited Hotspot Calling feature was discontinued with the launch of Even More and Even More Plus rate plans in October 2009. Customers can still utilize the UMA service for improved service in Wi-Fi hotspots, but the unlimited calling feature is no longer for sale.

In order to use the service, customers must use a UMA handset and have access to a wireless router. This is applicable in locations where cellular signal coverage is inadequate, enabling the wireless router to operate as a femtocell.

For use at home, T-Mobile branded wireless routers manufactured by D-Link or Linksys are available and claim advantages such as prioritizing voice calls and helping to preserve phone battery life, however most wireless routers work with the service and new equipment is not required.[16]

If the Unlimited HotSpot Calling add-on service is removed from the service plan, a UMA handset will still be able to connect to WiFi routers for digital quality calls but minutes used will be deducted from the user's rate plan.[citation needed] (A customer service representative from T-Mobile indicated, however, that the removal of unlimited-calling-over-UMA may affect billing, beyond the deduction of minutes from the rate plan. In particular, T-Mobile UMA calls are billed based on the user's home time zone, because the UMA service does not provide a local-time time stamp. Thus, for a user who has a home time zone of Eastern Time (U.S.), a phone call made from the Pacific Time (U.S.) would be billed as originating at the time of the actual call + 3 hours. This may result in the call being billed at peak hours even though it was placed off-peak (and vice-versa)).

The service was initially soft-launched in select stores in the Seattle, Washington area. The nationwide service was launched on July 2, 2007 to all of T-Mobile's customers.

T-Mobile also offers a landline replacement service called T-Mobile @Home. Using the same UMA technology to offer unlimited nationwide calling, the service requires a T-Mobile @Home branded Linksys router or adapter connected to an already existing high speed internet connection. The service is similar to offerings from other VoIP companies like Vonage, Comcast Digital Voice, or Verizon VoiceWing and launched nationally in the Fall of 2008 after two years of test marketing under the name T-Mobile Hotspot @Home. The name was changed at launch in order to avoid confusion with Unlimited Hotspot Calling and T-Mobile Hotspot Wi-Fi services.

The full list of features for @Home's are: basic caller ID, basic voicemail, Call waiting, Call forwarding, and Conference calling. As is the case of some other VoIP providers, fax transmittances currently don't work on this service.[17] Calls within North America are unlimited. However, without the monthly $5 international discounted calling (add-on) package, those international calls are largely billed at T-Mobile's regular mobile phone rates.

3G upgrade

In September 2006, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) offered, at auction, licenses in the first Advanced Wireless Services band. This band was an area of wireless spectrum, half in the 1700 MHz (1.7 GHz) and half in the 2100 MHz (2.1 GHz) frequencies, that was already in use by government services but would be available at some point in the future when those services moved to different frequencies.

The auction made numerous licenses available in overlapping market-area, economic-areas, and regional levels. Each license was individually bid upon, and T-Mobile was the winner in 120 license auctions, at an aggregate price of $4.18 billion. As part of its winnings, T-Mobile gained nationwide coverage of 1.7 GHz and 2.1 GHz, with numerous areas being supplemented with addition licenses. Examples include New York City, Chicago, and Boston where T-Mobile acquired one-third (33%) of the available spectrum, or San Francisco, Houston, and Miami where they acquired 45% of the available spectrum.[18]

Two weeks after confirming their winning bids, on October 6, 2006, T-Mobile announced their intentions to create a UMTS third generation, or 3G, cellular network with the spectrum they had won. T-Mobile USA said it would utilize and build on the experience of T-Mobile Europe, which already implemented its own 3G network, and at roll-out they intend to offer 7.2 Mbit/s service, making it the fastest 3G network in the United States. The upgrade was forecast to cost $2.6 billion, in addition to the $4.12 billion spent to acquire the spectrum.[19]

During the October 6 announcement, T-Mobile indicated they had already begun to deploy about half of the upgraded equipment, beginning in major markets such as New York City. With the equipment in place, they would be able to activate their network as soon as the current users, various government services, vacated these frequencies. T-Mobile had hoped to have its network activated by mid-2007, but as of September 2007 the government users had not vacated the AWS band.[19]

T-Mobile began selling their first 3G-capable phone, the Nokia 6263, in November 2007.[20] They announced in February 2008 that their 3G network will finally be activated "within the next few months"[21] and released in the New York City market on May 1, 2008. [22]

Currently, T-Mobile carries over 20 3G capable devices, all of which support the WCDMA 1700 MHz and 2100 MHz frequencies.

So far T-Mobile has launched its 3G network in most of their top markets with 3G networks active already. Additional markets will launch as they are tuned for optimal performance and in conjunction with marketing programs for new services or handsets. In 2009 T-Mobile upgraded more than 200 markets, covering some 208 million POPs.[23] T-Mobile is currently testing its 3.75G HSPA+ network in the Philadelphia market with plans to begin implementing HSPA+ throughout top 3G markets throughout 2010. T-Mobile's HSPA+ network will offer up to 21 Mbit/s speeds, making it the fastest 3G network in the United States.

T-Mobile's top markets are as follows:[citation needed]

Service Outages

On October 1, 2009 all Sidekick Data users lost all data functionality. Some users also experienced personal data loss — contacts, notes, calendars, etc.  On October 8, most data services were restored to some users. However, on October 10 it was announced that personal data may not be restored. The download catalog and T-Mail service are both still in the process of being restored as of current though some users are now able to use the T-Mail service. T-Mobile and Microsoft announced that all personal data stored on Sidekicks "almost certainly has been lost as a result of a server failure at Microsoft/Danger."[24]

Additionally, almost a month later On November 3, 2009, many T-Mobile USA subscribers lost the ability to receive/send calls or to text message. Many users also reported data service outages. T-Mobile confirmed it on their Twitter account saying, "All – We’re aware of the current service disruption. Our rapid response teams have been mobilized to restore service as quickly as possible." [25]

Radio Frequency Summary

The following is a list of known frequencies which T-Mobile employs in the United States:

Frequencies used on the T-Mobile USA Network
Frequency Protocol Class Notes
850 MHz GSM/GPRS/EDGE 1G/2G Non-native accessible via roaming agreement
1900 MHz GSM/GPRS/EDGE 1G/2G Largest 1900 MHz network in the United States
1700 MHz UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+ 3G Uses AWS Auctioned Spectrum and is incompatible with most other GSM Networks
2100 MHz UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+ 3G Uses AWS Auctioned Spectrum and is incompatible with most other GSM Networks

Corporate history

Former VoiceStream logo

The merger of General Cellular and Pacific Northwest Cellular formed Western Wireless, a cellular provider for several western and southwestern states, as well as Hawaii. After a successful public offering by Western Wireless, the VoiceStream Wireless division was formed. In 1999, this division was spun off as an independent company, and it proceeded to immediately acquire the regional GSM carriers Aerial Communications, in the midwest, and Omnipoint, in the northeast.

In May 2001, VoiceStream and the southern regional carrier Powertel were acquired by Deutsche Telekom for US$24 billion. In September 2002, the company's name changed nationally to T-Mobile.

On September 17, 2007 T-Mobile announced the acquisition of SunCom Wireless for $2.4 billion in cash. The acquisition expanded T-Mobile's network coverage to North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. It also added Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to T-Mobile's footprint. At the end of the second quarter of 2007, SunCom had more than 1.1 million customers. The acquisition was subject to governmental and regulatory approvals as well as approval by SunCom shareholders. The deal closed on February 22, 2008.

As of September 8, 2008 SunCom's operations formally switched over to T-Mobile.


T-Mobile USA's spokesperson through mid-2006 was Academy Award-winning actress Catherine Zeta-Jones. (The VoiceStream Wireless spokesperson was Jamie Lee Curtis.) Zeta-Jones was the main figure in T-Mobile's branding strategy. As of September 2006, Catherine Zeta-Jones had officially been dropped as the 'face' of T-Mobile for its US advertising campaigns due to a new corporate rebranding strategy.[26] T-Mobile USA also relied on rapper Snoop Dogg as the spokesperson for the company's T-Mobile Sidekick in a series of commercials late in 2004, T-Mobile also released a series of Sidekick phones known as the D-Wade Edition for Basketball Player Dwyane Wade.

T-Mobile is also an official sponsor of the National Basketball Association, the NBA Rookie Challenge and the Women's National Basketball Association.

In 2007, T-Mobile USA changed their approach to advertising, and moved from the "Get More" slogan to a "Stick Together" slogan to focus more on the personal aspect of staying together with those who matter the most to their customers.[citation needed] With this they also ended their relationship with Catherine Zeta-Jones, and now use mainly non-celebrity spokespeople (though Dwyane Wade and Charles Barkley are featured in some commercials, in association with the company's sponsorship of the NBA as official wireless provider).

T-Mobile also uses their flagship Corporate Social Responsibility program, their Huddle-Up program, to market themselves as a socially responsible organization.

In late May 2009 Zeta-Jones was brought back as a spokeperson for T-Mobile to show customers how to pay less for their wireless plan in a new "Mobile Makeovers" advertising campaign that refers customer to third-party comparison site[27][28]

In late 2009, commercials for the T-Mobile MyTouch 3G featured the song "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" by Cat Stevens[29] and celebrities such as Chevy Chase, Molly Shannon, Dana Carvey and Darrell Hammond.[30] Another commercial with the same song performed by a different artist showed Wyclef Jean, Avril Lavigne and Brad Paisley.[31]

T-Mobile Huddle Up

T-Mobile Huddle Up is T-Mobile USA’s (a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom) national community outreach and employee volunteer program that connects kids, primarily from single-parent families in high-need, urban communities.

More than 14 million children in the U.S. are unsupervised after school, and studies show that children who do not participate in an after school program are three times more likely to engage in risky behaviors, according to the After school Alliance.[32] T-Mobile employees, many of whom are single parents themselves, expressed an interest in the issues surrounding the after school time frame – they are concerned about what their kids do between the time the school bell rings and the workday ends. For these reasons, T-Mobile chose to focus its philanthropic efforts on after school programming.

Security issues

In January 2005 it was revealed that a 21 year old hacker named Nicolas Jacobsen had been charged with intruding into T-Mobile's internal network.[33] Reports indicate that for about a year he had access to customer passwords, address books, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and Sidekick photos but not credit card numbers. He was also able to read customer e-mail including that of the US Secret Service. He was identified by a Secret Service informant as part of Operation Firewall who provided evidence that Jacobsen had attempted to sell customer information to others for identity theft. T-Mobile and the Secret Service did not elaborate on the methods Jacobsen used to gain access but sources close to the case indicated that an unpatched flaw in the Oracle WebLogic Server application software used by T-Mobile was the weakness he exploited.[34] Additional SQL injection vulnerabilities with their web site were reported by Jack Koziol of the InfoSec Institute.[35]

An additional security flaw with their voice mail system passwordless login feature exposes the customer's voice mails to third-parties by way of Caller ID spoofing. T-Mobile recommends that this feature not be used but still offers it by default due to customer demand.[36]

T-Mobile's policy of requiring prepaid phone customers using credit cards to provide the last four digits of their Social Security number has also been criticized.[37] Alternative methods of authentication such as the Card Security Code could be used instead.

On June 6 2009, a message posted from an email account "" to the Full Disclosure mailing list claimed that T-Mobile's network had been breached and showed sample data. The sender offered "databases, confidential documents, scripts and programs from their servers, financial documents up to 2009" to the highest bidder.[38][39] On June 9, T-Mobile issued a statement confirming the breach but stating that customer data was safe. They claimed to have identified the source document for the sample data and believe it was not obtained by hacking.[40] A later statement claimed that there wasn't any evidence of a breach.[41]

See also


  1. ^ "T-Mobile USA Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2008 Results"
  2. ^ WirelessReports' Comparison of the Big Fours' calling plans
  3. ^ J.D. Power press release T-Mobile Ranks Highest in Wireless Customer Care Performance for a Fifth Consecutive Time. 25 January 2007, accessed 20 September 2007
  4. ^ New York GSM Facilities description
  5. ^ Lease Entities
  6. ^ T-Mobile USA's 2007 second quarter financial statement
  7. ^ T-Mobile International About T-Mobile USA
  8. ^ T-Mobile International SunCom acquisition announcement
  9. ^ T-Mobile USA's "What is EDGE"
  10. ^ T-Mobile USA's coverage FAQ
  11. ^ T-Mobile USA's prepaid coverage FAQ
  12. ^ T-Mobile HotSpot location
  13. ^ MobileStar network back on.
  14. ^ T-Mobile USA's company history
  15. ^ T-Mobile USA's press release HotSpot @Home
  16. ^ T-Mobile USA's Unlimited HotSpot Calling specifications sheet
  17. ^ T-Mobile FAQ - "Can I use a fax machine with T-Mobile @Home?"
  18. ^ FCC's Auction 66 Summary
  19. ^ a b eWeek's Coverage of T-Mobile USA 3G announcement
  20. ^ T-Mobile's new Nokia 6263 brings 3G | Tech news blog - CNET
  21. ^ T-Mobile to have U.S. 3G service before summer
  22. ^ T-Mobile USA Begins Commercial 3G Network Rollout
  23. ^ [1]
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ Wall Street Journal. T-Mobile Readies New Web Phones -- And Hangs Up on a Star Pitchwoman
  27. ^ T-Mobile Press Release T-Mobile Aims to Help Wireless Customers Save Money by Offering Mobile Makeovers
  28. ^
  29. ^ Olson, Drew (2009-10-19). "What the heck is the song in that commercial?". Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  30. ^, Retrieved on 2009-10-21.
  31. ^, Retrieved on 2009-12-09.
  32. ^ Afterschool Alliance: America After 3 PM
  33. ^ SecurityFocus Hacker penetrates T-Mobile systems
  34. ^ Wired Known Hole Aided T-Mobile Breach
  35. ^ PC World Paris Hilton: Victim of T-Mobile's Web Flaws?
  36. ^ T-Mobile T-Mobile VoiceMail security features
  37. ^ Seattle Post-Intelligencer Consumer Smarts: Merchant's request for SSN can put shopper in a tough bind
  38. ^
  39. ^ Full Disclosure mailing list T-Mobile sources and data
  40. ^ eWeek T-Mobile Confirms Breach, but Says Customers Safe
  41. ^ PC World T-Mobile Data Was Not Taken by Hacking, Company Says

External links

Official websites


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