While various U.S. carriers have already started to cover various markets with their true 4G LTE networks, T-Mobile has been relying on its false 4G HSPA+ network to lure in customers looking for speedier mobile data. But it looks like T-Mobile is finally read to deploy its own LTE network, as the company has officially announced plans to launch its LTE service in early 2013.
The mobile operator has inked “multi-year agreements” with companies like Ericsson in Nokia Siemens Networks in order to upgrade 37,000 cell sites to support LTE connectivity in the following months, an investment that amounts to $4 billion. In June, the company will upgrade 400 GSM/HSPA+ sites to LTE, with the number expected to increase to 2,500 by the end of July.
The company also revealed that in addition to LTE cell tower upgrades it’s also working on deploying its own 1900MHz 4G HSPA+ spectrum which is expected to be rolled out on a larger scale by the end of the year. The new spectrum would bring faster data speeds – 3G and false 4G – to certain devices including unlocked iPhones. These smartphones can be used only on the carrier’s 2G network right now.
But what’s even more important for T-Mobile customers is that the carrier is not happy to offer them just LTE support starting with next year. Instead, the company will deploy an optimized LTE version called LTE-Advanced, which is supposed to offer an overall better, more efficient performance than “simple” LTE networks.
However, the carrier did not mention in its press release (available below) when its first 4G LTE devices will be available in stores, although we certainly expect various Android smartphones and tablets to be found on that list once T-Mobile’s real 4G network is launched.
Fast Progress on 4G Network Modernization
June 14, 2012
We’re making great progress in just three short months since we first announced T-Mobile’s $4 billion 4G network evolution plan, including network modernization and deployment of long term evolution (LTE) service in 2013. Here are some of the highlights:
Just last month, T-Mobile announced multi-year agreements with Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks to support our $4 billion 4G network evolution plan, which will include a modernization of 37,000 cell sites and a move to the latest, state-of-the-art, LTE release 10 capable equipment.
Initially, this effort will improve existing voice and data coverage, make our 4G network compatible with a broader range of devices (including the iPhone), and pave the way for long term evolution (LTE) service next year.
With contracts in place, we’re making excellent headway on our network infrastructure transformation. By the end of this month we expect new equipment to be installed at our first 400 modernized GSM / HSPA+ sites and we plan to grow this to over 2,500 sites by the end of July.
We’ve also secured zoning approval or do not require zoning for over 19,500 sites and have completed necessary entitlement work, including obtaining building permits for over 4,000 sites.
As new equipment is in place, we’re turning up some small scale tests of 4G HSPA+ service in our 1900 MHz spectrum. Some customers with unlocked iPhones recently saw evidence of those tests; clocking much faster data speeds at the Moscone West conference center in San Francisco. More of these speed sightings will occur as we work toward introducing 4G HSPA+ service in our 1900 MHz spectrum in a large number of markets later this year.
Finally, LTE trials are underway and this summer we’ll begin using Release-10 equipment in these trials. The ability to launch with this next version of LTE technology is one advantage of launching next year.
We’ll be sure to keep you posted on our progress along the way.