Attention Un-carrier wannabes! Fast & unlimited can co-exist. Here’s how.

Neville Ray
Chief Technology Officer
Over the last year, data usage on T-Mobile’s network has skyrocketed! It’s up more than 50%, and at the same time, average LTE speeds – according to multiple third parties – have stayed the fastest in the country. In fact, T-Mobile has actually gotten faster in the last year – 25% faster based on Speedtest data. 
Case in point: we just launched Netflix On Us! Everyone is asking me what kind of traffic volumes we are seeing and if the network can handle additional traffic. Big surprise: customers LOVE Netflix! We stream over 1 million hours of Netflix every day! How is the network holding up?  This week our LTE network averaged over 30Mbps. #nosweat
By all logic, our network should be slowing down – just like Verizon and AT&T’s well documented network slow downs (this last one is from Verizon’s own community forum). But, T-Mobile’s unlimited just keeps getting better.
AND, on top of that, today, I’m happy to announce that starting tomorrow we’re increasing T-Mobile’s prioritization point from an already-industry-leading 32GB to a whopping 50GB! Meanwhile, Verizon and AT&T sit at a meager 22GB, meaning Un-carrier customers can use more than 2x the data before prioritization kicks in. Now, 50GB of data usage means a T-Mobile customer is basically the top 1% of data users, and to put it in context, you could stream a full 2 hours of Netflix every single day – that’s 30 SD movies – and never even reach that point! You’d still have roughly 8GB to go.
As background, we use prioritization for T-Mobile customers to manage network traffic and ensure a small number of the very most active users on our network don’t negatively impact everyone else so everyone can have a great experience. Often confused for a “throttle” or “cap,” prioritization is different. It doesn’t cap how much you can use, and someone would only notice it when TWO things happen: the customer has already consumed a ton of data in the month (50GB) AND they are in an area of the network is that currently experiencing congestion. When T-Mobile customers who use the most data hit these prioritization points during the month, they get in line behind other customers who have used less data and may experience reduced speeds. But this impacts them only very rarely, like when there is a big line, and it resets every month. If you have a lot of congestion in your network (I’m looking at you, Verizon & AT&T), these lines can be long and deprioritized customers can be waiting a long time.
So, how does T-Mobile keep giving customers more and keep getting better, faster, stronger as data demands increase? What are we doing differently to handle unlimited data so much better than those two wireless behemoths? Well, let me share a few of the secrets behind running America’s best unlimited network (ahem, pay attention, carriers!):
1) To go faster, move faster
We’ve built our entire team to move quickly, which is why every meaningful network innovation in the last three years has come to Un-carrier customers first. All that new tech translates into lots of customer benefits – increased voice quality, higher reliability, lower latency, better experience – as well as increased speed. We don’t wait for technology to come to us, we go out and get it!
2) Always be planning ahead
Today’s traffic was something we planned for the day we built our LTE network. We weren’t the first with LTE, so we knew we had to be the best.  We knew LTE would unleash a whole new wave of data, led by video and VoLTE. So we built our LTE network from day 1 with these goals in mind. 
Today, we’re already planning for 2020 and rolling out 5G ready stuff. That’s a huge deal because it means, when 5G is ready for customers, we can light it up with a software-upgrade without having to physically upgrade cell sites again. Basically, we’ll flip a switch, and boom – 5G.
3) Shut up and listen
Listening to customers and solving their pain points is what the Un-carrier movement is all about. For the network, listening to customers means monitoring our network performance obsessively every minute of every day. That is why we built a massive Big Data platform to collect as much network data as possible. This listening data tells us which improvements to prioritize and where to focus them.
Crowd data is essential to all of this because it tells us what real people are experiencing on the network in real situations with their devices in near real-time. And, when you’re obsessed with delivering the best customer experience, like we are, that’s what really matters!
Our Un-carrier mantra – “We won’t stop” – is doubly true of our network team. We won’t stop listening and taking action! And, we won’t stop increasing our network capacity and capability for our customers!
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