T-Mobile inked multi-year agreements with Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) earlier this month to deploy its $4 billion 4G network. The agreements call for Release 10-capable equipment, also known as LTE Advanced, at 37,000 cell sites across T-Mobile’s network, beginning this year and completing in 2013.
The vendor announcement came on the heels of the FCC’s approval of the AT&T spectrum transfer to T-Mobile, which was part of the failed-merger agreement. With the infusion of the new spectrum in 128 markets, T-Mobile will launch LTE on AWS spectrum in 75 percent of the top 25 markets.
“Securing the additional spectrum from AT&T was a catalyst for T-Mobile’s planned launch of LTE in 2013,” a T-Mobile spokesperson said. “As part of our recently announced its 4G evolution strategy, the company will invest $4 billion over time on network modernization to improve existing voice and data coverage, which includes refarming 1900 MHz PCS spectrum currently being used for GSM to deploy HSPA+ 4G services, as well as deployment of LTE in 2013.” T-Mobile expects to reach broad deployment of LTE next year, with service in the vast majority of the top 50 markets.
T-Mobile believes it will be the first carrier in North America to rollout antenna-integrated radios (AIR), enabling accelerated deployment and reduced site loading. Ericsson launched its antenna-integrated radios at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last year. The technology is expected to reduce power consumption by 42 percent and drop installation time by a third. The AIR thechnology is the result of a strategic partnership between Ericsson and the antenna maker Kathrein.
“The company’s timing for LTE allows T-Mobile to take advantage of the latest and most advanced LTE technology infrastructure, improving the overall capacity and performance of its 4G network, while optimizing the company’s spectrum resources,” T-Mobile said in a press release.
T-Mobile is not done with HSPA+, however. It plans to launch 4G HSPA+ service in the 1900 MHz band in a number of markets by the end of the year, allowing for the use of the iPhone. Currently, it serves 229 markets with HSPA+.