T-Mobile updates its network coverage map to add in real-world customer data

T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS), which has worked to set itself apart from its competitors as the "uncarrier," said it has found another avenue for differentiation: its coverage map. T-Mobile unveiled its so-called "Next-Gen Network Map," which the carrier said will show real-world network information from its customers.

In a company blog post, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray wrote that "every carrier has produced their network map in the same way, based on 'predictive coverage estimations.' The problem is that these maps are exactly that--best estimates. But for some time now, there have been far more advanced methods and technologies available to produce far more accurate coverage maps--based on the actual experience of real customers, like you and your family."

T-Mobile is showing off its new map here.

Ray wrote that T-Mobile's new map will show near real-time customer experiences on its network, and is based on more than 200 million actual customer usage data points that will be collected every day. Additionally, Ray wrote that T-Mobile will display information from "trusted third-party sources," including Inrix and other unnamed companies, to validate and augment its own network data. The map will show LTE, HSPA+, EDGE or other levels of coverage, and customers will be able zoom in on an area of 100 square meters.

The new map will include data that will be updated twice per month. Ray said other carrier's maps "may be months or even years old."

Ray added that the map will include a "Verified Coverage icon," indicating where the majority of data is provided by T-Mobile customers reporting their actual network experience. The map will also include speed test data from "trusted third party apps" showing average download speeds from customer speed tests over the past 90 days. T-Mobile has used Ookla's Speedtest.net as an example of a crowdsourced app it relies on for its claims on network speed.

"As we continue to rapidly enhance and expand our 4G LTE coverage to reach 300 million Americans this year, our new Next-Gen coverage map will also continue to evolve--based on billions of data points provided by real customers' real-life network experiences," Ray wrote. "Because, at the end of the day, your experience with our network is what it's all about."

Ray told CNET that the map has "pure, unfiltered customer data."

T-Mobile's LTE network currently covers around 270 million POPs. Sprint (NYSE: S) covers roughly the same number of people with LTE, while Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) says its LTE network covers around 306 million POPs and AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) says its LTE network covers more than 300 million POPs.

T-Mobile aims to have LTE coverage out to 280 million POPs by the middle of the year and 300 million by the end of 2015.

Ray told CNET he is OK with T-Mobile's map showing where the carrier has gaps in its LTE coverage. "We want the rest of the competition to do this," he said. "In the future, customers will demand greater visibility on all aspects of their service."

For more:
- see this T-Mobile blog post
- see this CNET article
- see this TMoNews article

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