T-Mobile had no clear path to 4G LTE. That was a common argument that AT&T made when they launched their bid to acquire T-Mobile. Then the deal fell apart and AT&T was forced to pay T-Mobile a $4 billion breakup fee and hand over some unused AWS spectrum.
Now in an ironic twist, T-Mobile has announced they will refarm the additional spectrum received from AT&T for their own 4G LTE network they hope to launch in 2013. T-Mobile will also invest a total of $4 billion into network modernization and LTE deployment, which includes installing new equipment at 37,000 cell sites.
For awhile AT&T was claiming they would get T-Mobile’s spectrum one way or another, and now they are funding T-Mobile’s LTE network as a result of termination of the failed acquisition.
“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.”
Since T-Mobile is late to the LTE game, they will actually be the first carrier in North America to modernize its 4G network with new antenna integrated radios on many of its cell towers, which will strengthen coverage and deliver higher performance.
T-Mobile expects to reach broad deployment of LTE in 2013, with service in the majority of the top 50 markets and 20 MHz service in 75 percent of the top 25 markets.
It almost sounds too good to be true for T-Mobile customers, but all these plans are still awaiting regulatory approval of spectrum transfer from the AT&T breakup. T-Mobile also says they still need more AWS spectrum to complete a deeper LTE build-out.
I switched to Verizon in 2011 because T-Mobile lacked LTE and the premium devices I wanted, but if T-Mobile actually launches their new network by 2013 then maybe I’ll consider a return when my contract expires.
If you are a current T-Mobile customer, is this news good enough to keep your business?