T-Mobile, already busy with its massive network modernization, appears to be taking its merger with MetroPCS in stride.
Barely two weeks from the deal’s closing, the system integration of T-Mobile and MetroPCS has already begun, with a system cutover in Las Vegas, J. Braxton Carter, T-Mobile CFO, told the 41st Annual J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference on May 15 in Boston.
“We are doing that within two weeks of closing [on the MetroPCS merger]. There were questions about how soon we would be in a position to combine these two businesses. The fact of the matter is it is going to happen very quickly,” Carter said.
Additionally, T-Mobile plans to quickly expand the MetroPCS brand to 15 major metropolitan areas, covering 100 million additional pops, Carter said.
“We are going very quickly. The rollout will be measured in quarters not years,” Carter said. “We will leverage existing backhaul and interconnection facilities. Because we don’t have to build an entirely new network, it allows us in a very short time span to roll out, beginning in the third and four quarters and continuing the expansion into 2014.”
T-Mobile’s capital expenditures for the first quarter of 2013 were $1.1 billion, accelerating the network modernization program, which is on pace to cover 200 million pops with LTE by the end of 2013. In the first quarter 2013, the carrier launched LTE in seven major metropolitan areas and upgraded 16,000 sites with HSPA+ at 1900 MHz.
Neville Ray, T-Mobile CTO, said he was pleased with the pace of network modernization last year and this year, the bulk of which will be complete by the end of 2013.
“Our goal for the year of modernizing the network with HSPA+ in the 1900-MHz band over 170 million pops is in the bag. Our refarmed spectrum is driving growth,” Ray said. “We said we would hit 100 million pops with LTE by midyear [excluding MetroPCS]. We will have done that and more. We will hit 200 million pops of modernized network including LTE, and we will be in position to ease off in 2014.”
T-Mobile is looking to expand its network in 2014–2015 through spectrum it plans to purchase at auctions, which is “a far more cost-effective way of going forward with network expansion,” Ray said.