VIEQUES, P.R. — Wireless carrier T-Mobile announced the arrival of the 600MHz technology to Vieques, completing the deployment of the next-generation technology throughout the 78 municipalities.
Less than two years after Hurricane María struck Puerto Rico, T-Mobile has lit up 600MHz to provide coverage in every town, the company’s General Manager Jorge Martel said.
The 600MHz technology — which is being launched in Puerto Rico ahead of schedule is the platform used to transition into 5G. Originally, T-Mobile planned to invest in 600MHz in 2020 or 2021, but due to the emergency caused by the storm, the Federal Communications Commission and the local government authorized the carrier to move its plans forward.
“Specifically, in Vieques, we’re offering a technological infrastructure that is the best in Puerto Rico and the world,” Martel said during a news conference that took place on the island municipality which was virtually cut-off from power and communications post-María in 2017.
He said the island municipality has been outfitted with hurricane-resistant towers, long-lasting backup batteries and if needed, short-term access to generators to prevent a drawn out interruption.
Recent tests in Vieques with the 600MHz network showed that the LTE signal improved by 140%, the average download speed increased by 4.5 times, with speeds exceeding 130 Mbps. The average upload speed increased by 3.5 times, with maximum speeds of more than 40 Mbps, Martel said.
“With 600 MHz turned on throughout Puerto Rico, we continue to lay the foundations for 5G and contribute to positioning the island as a leader in technology and as a center of technological innovation,” Martel said.
“We’re excited to be in Vieques today for this announcement that will help the island’s economic and social growth,” he said.
Martel also discussed highlights of T-Mobile’s most recent financial results for the second quarter 2019, in which it reported $8.4 billion in company-wide service revenues, which is a 6% year-over-year increase.
Furthermore, T-Mobile reported a low all-time record of customer “churn,” which is the term given to customer turnover. He said the churn rate was .78% for the quarter, which is “the lowest in T-Mobile’s history.”
“Puerto Rico’s churn levels are pretty similar to those of the U.S. [mainland] and our customer loyalty rate is high,” he said. “We saw a customer growth rate of 14% during the second quarter, in comparison to the same period in 2018.”
Although T-Mobile does not have a customer service center in Vieques, Martel said the carrier will compensate by stationing one of its mobile units on a temporary basis in coming weeks. He said T-Mobile’s customer service center in Fajardo serves the Vieques customer base.
As part of it commitment to Vieques, T-Mobile partnered with the Boys & Girls Club in that municipality, as well as the town’s Department of Sports and Recreation, to which it donated sporting equipment.
In addition, on Monday, Puerto Rican NBA basketball star José Juan Barea led a group of his local teammates — Ali Berdiel, Samiel Rosas, Filiberto Rivera, Ricky Sánchez and Carlos Crespo — in offering a sports clinic to children and youth in Vieques.