Let the catch up begin. T-Mobile announced yesterday their roadmap to offer 4G LTE services , with service set to begin sometime in 2013. T-Mobile selected Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) as their vendor partners for the $4 billion network upgrade.
T-Mobile has AT&T to thank for much of this 4G LTE effort. As a part of the break-up fee for their failed T-Mobile acquisition, AT&T had to surrender AWS spectrum, as well as billions in cash to T-Mobile, who is now planning to put those assets to work.
“We’re making great progress on our four billion dollar 4G network transformation,” said Neville Ray, chief technology officer, T-Mobile USA in a press release. “With these partners on board and the AT&T AWS spectrum secured, we’re on track to enhance our 4G experience this year and deliver nationwide LTE in 2013.”
The overall plan has T-Mobile upgrading 37K cell sites across the country. According to T-Mobile, the AWS spectrum combined with their own “refarming” of existing spectrum will enable 20 MHz for LTE in 75% of the top 25 markets. T-Mobile also plans to leverage “antenna integrated radios” in this upgrade to create more efficiency with their entire network.
T-Mobile’s 4G efforts include more than just LTE. T-Mobile has been famous for pushing the marketing envelope regarding 4G, claiming their HSPA+ technology already gives them the “largest” 4G network in the U.S. This announced roadmap will continue in this effort, with T-Mobile growing their HSPA+ footprint and hoping to achieve a “…33 percent increase in HSPA+ data speeds as well as improved in-building coverage.”
T-Mobile claims customers can experience speeds of up to 8 Mbps (with bursts up to 22 Mbps) on their HSPA+ network. “Not only are we delivering a fast 4G experience to a higher percentage of our customers, we’re also making it more affordable to step up to 4G,” said Ray.
With this announcement, all four major U.S. tier 1 wireless carriers have announced their 4G LTE strategy. Verizon is in the lead, having gotten to market first with LTE. AT&T is busily building out their network as well, with several markets turned up. Sprint stumbled a bit, having initially selected WiMAX as their 4G solution, but having since declared LTE as their preferred 4G solution. They hope to have their first LTE markets turned up by the middle of this year. T-Mobile clearly has some LTE catching up to do.