What’s 4 billion dollars get you these days? At T-Mobile, that sum of dinero will buy you a new network. A little over a month ago, T-Mobile said they weren’t too concerned with deploying LTE as they claim it provides little benefit over the existing HSPA+ 4G they use now. Perhaps a little change of heart lead to the announcement of an LTE deployment by 2013. It’s obvious they are trying to play catch-up now that 4 other carriers in the US are already testing or have deployed LTE as their 4G offering. It will be fun to watch as they scramble trying to stay up with everyone else.
Additional investment areas core to the company’s challenger strategy include aggressively pursuing the B2B segment, expanding the sales force by 1,000; ramping up advertising spending; and attracting new mobile virtual network operator (MVNO)partners with an efficient platform for getting to market. T-Mobile will also continue to remodel its retail stores and expand distribution.
T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray detailed the company’s network strategy, which includes installing new equipment at 37,000 cell sites and refarming spectrum to launch LTE in 2013.1 The key catalyst of refarming is the additional spectrum T-Mobile will receive as a result of the termination of the AT&T transaction. Also, other enablers are faster adoption of 3G and 4G services and improved device performance.
T-Mobile will invest a total of $4 billion over time into network modernization and LTE deployment. Over the next two years, this represents approximately $1.4 billion in incremental network investment. T-Mobile expects to reach broad deployment of LTE, with service in the vast majority of the top 50 markets and 20 MHz service in 75 percent of the top 25 markets.
“Today, we operate America’s Largest 4G Network delivering a fast and reliable 4G data experience with HSPA+,” said Neville Ray, chief technology officer, T-Mobile USA. “Launching LTE next year lets us take advantage of technology infrastructure advancements and benefit from a more mature LTE device ecosystem while continuing to meet the growing demand for data with a powerful 4G experience.”
T-Mobile expects to be the first carrier in North America to modernize its 4G network infrastructure with new antenna integrated radios on many of its cell towers, which will deliver higher performance and strengthen coverage.
More than 90 percent of T-Mobile device sales in the fourth quarter were 3G and 4G smartphones. As data usage and smartphone adoption accelerate, fewer customers are utilizing 2G services. This enables T-Mobile to refarm existing spectrum holdings, reducing the amount of 1900 MHz PCS spectrum being used for GSM; to deploy HSPA+ 4G services in the PCS band; and to make room in the AWS band for LTE. In addition to creating capacity for LTE in AWS spectrum, deploying HSPA+ in the PCS band will harmonize T-Mobile’s spectrum bands with the U.S. market and international carriers. As the company refarms spectrum, T-Mobile will continue to support its 2G customers.
T-Mobile’s 4G HSPA+ network, which currently covers well over 200 million people, will continue to deliver a competitive 4G experience. T-Mobile will continue to expand its HSPA+ 4G footprint and its innovative 4G product and service offerings. For example, the recently announced Samsung Galaxy S® Blaze™ 4G, launching in March, is the newest smartphone in T-Mobile’s portfolio to support the faster speeds offered by the HSPA+ 42 network.