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Tag Archives: T-Mobile

T-Mobile, WLNY-TV Accelerate Spectrum Repack in NYC

By The Editors of AGL

T-Mobile and CBS Television Stations have completed the accelerated repack of WLNY-TV’s 600 MHz spectrum on portions of Long Island and the surrounding area that extends into Brooklyn and Queens. WLNY moved to its new spectrum frequency earlier this month, more than a year sooner than the August 2019 FCC deadline. This agreement enables T-Mobile to enhance LTE coverage and capacity in the New York City area more quickly.

“Partnering with WLNY allows us to clear spectrum and bring 600 MHz LTE to customers in New York City as quickly as possible,” said Neville Ray, CTO at T-Mobile. “The T-Mobile team is deploying 600 MHz LTE across the country at record pace and we’re laying the foundation for 5G in NYC by deploying 600 MHz with 5G-ready gear.”

As a result of the 600 MHz spectrum auction last year, broadcasters using 600 MHz spectrum will move to new frequencies to allow wireless companies, like T-Mobile, to access the spectrum and repurpose it for new and expanded wireless services across the country.

“We are happy to report the move of WLNY 10/55 to its new frequency was seamless,” said Peter Dunn, President, CBS Television Stations. “It was a pleasure to partner with our friends at T-Mobile and be ahead of the curve in terms of serving our viewers.”

This agreement is part of T-Mobile’s broader commitment to work with broadcasters on 600 MHz spectrum to assist them in moving to new frequencies. In the last year, T-Mobile announced several similar partnerships to assist stations in the move to new airwaves.

This agreement accelerates the Un-carrier’s rollout of 600 MHz Extended Range LTE, which travels twice as far and works four times better in buildings than mid-band spectrum, while laying the foundation for 5G in the New York City area. T-Mobile plans to light up 600 MHz LTE in this cleared spectrum in early 2019.

Legere Makes Convincing Pitch for T-Mo/Sprint Merger

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor

T-Mobile President and CEO John Legere answers questions during the T-Mobile Q4/FY 2017 Earnings Call on Thursday February 8, 2018, in New York. (Mark Von Holden/AP Images for T-Mobile)

John Legere always talks a good game. Sometimes it is tough separating the hype from reality, however. Last week, he continued to make his case for T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint, promising faster speeds, lower costs and increased employment in a blog. The merged company will invest nearly $40 billion and will have spectrum and capacity needed for a “broad and deep” nationwide 5G network, the T-Mobile CEO said. Rural coverage will be a big emphasis, he said, which should get the support of Congress.

He said the merged company will provide 5G speeds that are five times faster than the LTE speeds by 2021, while increasing LTE speeds.

“At full deployment the New T-Mobile will deliver fiber-like speeds. I’m talking about average speeds at a blazing 444 Mbps, covering about two-thirds of the country, with jaw-dropping peak speeds up to 4.1 Gbps!!” Legere said.

One of the merger tests that the New T-Mobile must pass is whether their marriage of the two wireless companies will reduce competition and increase costs to the consumer. Legere held that costs will actually go down.

“Analysis by renowned economist Dr. David Evans concludes that the building of the New T-Mobile 5G network will provoke competitive responses from Verizon and AT&T that will result in a decrease in the cost of a gigabit of up to 55 percent and over a 120 percent increase in mobile data supply for all wireless customers,” he said.

Addressing concerns that large swathes of America are unserved or underserved, he said that the merger will result in mobile broadband speeds in excess of 100 Mbps to roughly two-thirds of the population in just a few years and 90 percent of the country by 2024.

“This deal enables New T-Mobile to increase coverage in rural America and create more competition for wireless, broadband and beyond. Case in point: we estimate that 20-25 percent of those new broadband subscribers will be located in rural areas,” Legere said.

As opposed reducing jobs, which most mergers do through taking advantage of synergies, Legere plans on creating 3,000 direct jobs in the first year, increasing to more than 9,600 direct and indirect jobs by 2021 and more than 11,000 by 2024.

“Every day we will have more jobs as the New T-Mobile than the two stand-alone companies would have on their own,” he said. “As we build out our new 5G network and bring these services to all parts of the country we will create thousands of job opportunities.”

No one knows if the Federal Trade Commission will okay the merger, but Legere checks all the boxes that regulators will scrutinize. The merger will increase competition with Verizon and AT&T, he said, lowering consumer costs and establishing competition in rural areas, in places where it doesn’t exist today.  And increased employment would be the frosting on the cake. For the wireless infrastructure industry, the promise of a $40 billion capex infusion might be enough to take the sting out of the planned decrease in towers.

T-Mobile Reports Record Low Postpaid Phone Churn in Q1

Steve Vachon, Technology Business Research

T-Mobile reported record low postpaid phone churn of 1.07 percent in the first quarter because of the carrier’s enhanced LTE network coverage and data speeds coupled with value-added incentives offered to T-Mobile One unlimited data customers, including free Netflix subscriptions and the #GetThanked rewards program. T-Mobile also outperformed rivals in postpaid phone net additions (617,000) for the 17th consecutive quarter.

The marketing of T-Mobile has been particularly successful in attracting millennials and the company has begun targeting additional demographics to bolster subscriber growth, including recently launching service plans targeted to adults over 55 years old (T-Mobile One 55+) as well as military service members (T-Mobile One Military).

TBR projects T-Mobile will remain the leader in postpaid phone net additions throughout 2018 as it aims to extend LTE coverage to 325 million POPs by the end of the year via deployments in the 600MHz band, enabling the carrier to expand retail distribution to markets where it previously did not have a presence. Though phone subscriber growth is decelerating due to the saturating smartphone market and the entry of Xfinity Mobile, T-Mobile is exceeding its own expectations as the company raised its initial 2018 guidance for branded postpaid net additions to between 2.6 million and 3.3 million customers.

T-Mobile will compensate for the saturating smartphone market through its expanding consumer connected device portfolio, through offerings including wearables and its SyncUp Drive connected car platform, as well as targeting commercial IoT customers through the cost savings offered by its NB-IoT network.


Steve Vachon an analyst for Technology Business Research, and independent technology market research and consulting firm specializing in the business and financial analyses of hardware, software, networking equipment, wireless, portal and professional services vendors. Serving a global clientele, TBR provides timely and accurate market research and business intelligence in a format that is uniquely tailored to clients’ needs. TBR analysts are available to further address client-specific issues or information needs on an inquiry or proprietary consulting basis.

Click here to email Vachon. For more information please visit www.tbri.com.  @SteveTBR

 

Sprint Under Pressure Despite Cost Cutting, Retail Growth; T-Mobile Merger will Enable Sprint to Resolve its Financial Challenges

By Steve Vachon, Technology Business Research

Despite cutting $1.1 billion in operating expenses over the past year, Sprint’s consolidated operating margin fell 260 basis points to 2.9 percent in 1Q18. Sprint’s wireline business was a significant drag on its consolidated margins, reporting negative operating income of $107 million as the segment lacks the scale to compete against larger wireline rivals such as AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink.

If the T-Mobile and Sprint merger is successful, TBR expects T-Mobile will likely divest Sprint’s wireline business due to its limited profitability and the division not complementing the company’s core strategic objectives. Though Sprint’s postpaid subscriber net additions improved year-over year (39,000 in 1Q18 vs -118,000 in 1Q17), the company was challenged by high wholesale subscriber losses (-165,000) and falling ARPU stemming from the carrier’s aggressive pricing promotions, contributing to wireless revenue falling 4.6 percent year-to-year. Sprint’s operating margin is also negatively impacted by rising deprecation costs related to its network infrastructure and devices offered as part of its leasing program.

Though Sprint is taking the right steps to cut expenses, the company’s long-term financial position remains uncertain due to the company’s high debt load and struggle to generate adjusted free cash flow (-$240 million in 1Q18) while balancing additional capex spending. These financial difficulties illustrate why the T-Mobile merger is vital to Sprint and that its challenges will only intensify heading into the 5G era. Remaining a standalone company will require intensified investment for Sprint to compete against its rivals in the 5G market, which would likely further weaken Sprint’s financial position. If approved, the merger would serve as a lifeboat for Sprint’s financial challenges and wireless churn among Sprint’s subscriber base would decrease as customers transition to T-Mobile’s higher-quality network. Additionally, the combined company would be able to accelerate 5G deployments by leveraging T-Mobile’s 600MHz spectrum with Sprint’s vast 2.5 GHz licenses, which are expected to provide nationwide average network speeds 15 times faster than current LTE speeds by 2024.


Steve Vachon an analyst for Technology Business Research, and independent technology market research and consulting firm specializing in the business and financial analyses of hardware, software, networking equipment, wireless, portal and professional services vendors. Serving a global clientele, TBR provides timely and accurate market research and business intelligence in a format that is uniquely tailored to clients’ needs. TBR analysts are available to further address client-specific issues or information needs on an inquiry or proprietary consulting basis.

Click here to email Vachon. For more information please visit www.tbri.com.

All Signs Point to Small Cell Deployment Growth

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor

Lewis

Panelists at the Wireless West Conference last week agreed that the wireless industry is shifting its small cell deployment into high gear, discussing both the reasons behind that growth and the issues that might hinder it.

Several factors are driving the deployment of hundreds of thousands of small cells annually, according to Jeff Lewis, president and founder, Verticom, who moderated “Small Cells, Big Market,” from general economic momentum to positive telecom industry trends. Specifically, he also cited the growing number of 5G use cases plus clarity surrounding timelines for 5G NR standards and deployment. Additionally, mobile edge computing is a key component of scalable 5G architecture.

“In addition to FirstNet, you have the TV repack and relocation initiative. You have incremental industry spend of $2 billion. Throw in regulatory and tax reform and you have another $2 billion of free cash flow,” Lewis said. “With the successful 5G trials going on nationwide, ROI models have begun to factor in less risk, which increases the project approval rate. Any time you have less risk and a more predictable deployment model, capex increases.”

One carrier, T-Mobile, has a “robust small cell program,” planning on deploying 25,000 small cells in the 18 to 24 months, according to Hollie Maldonado, site development manager, T-Mobile. She contrasted that number to the 20 years it took for the carrier to build out its current lineup of 60,000 macrosites.

Crown Castle, which as 50,000 small cell sites, is in the process of 5,000 more sites in the western market. “We are seeing enormous growth in small cells,” said Dan Schweizer, Crown Castle International government relations. “We are trying to build as many of them as we can.”

Kishore Raja, Boingo Wireless VP engineering, said there is an additional catalyst for small cell growth, noting they can now be deployed in two different ways on unlicensed spectrum as well as licensed, bringing with it new business models. “Now, there is a third avenue: the 150 megahertz at 3.5 GHz of spectrum in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service,” Raja said. “This opens up small cells to neutral host operators sharing spectrum with the incumbents.”

Opening up New Markets

The panelists discussed new markets that small cells bring to their companies. T-Mobile is currently deploying small cells to offload 4G LTE capacity from its macrosites, but the same sites will bring 5G services as close as possible to users. Crown Castle will use hyperdensification for offload of fiber data traffic and carrying mission critical Internet of Things data in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Small cells give Boingo Wireless an additional tool to solve issues in its current venues and also allow it to serve additional venues that before did not make economic sense. ExteNet uses small cells to densify the networks of carriers.

The challenge, according to Raja, is creating the user experience. “Whether the deployment is New Radio, millimeter wave, 4G, 4G advanced, Wi-Fi or any others, the goal is a clean, seamless user experience as they move from network to network,” he said. “Virtualization will be very key to managing these networks, both in terms of capex and opex.”

Opposition from Municipalities May Be a Drag on Small Cell Deployment

While the panelists agreed on the need for small cells to the future of the wireless industry, they also agreed that without streamlining of the municipal zoning processes the idea of deploying 100s of thousands of them seems impossible.

“We know one of the keys to achieving that goal is working with local governments. We have our work cut out for us,” Maldonado said. “We have launched a hefty site advocacy campaign in several markets to ensure that groundwork has been laid to execute quickly.”

Extenet is trying to drive down costs and streamline processes in the rights of way at a local level with the municipalities, according Greg Spraetz, SVP & GM enterprise solutions, ExteNet Systems.

Schweizer noted the work done by states and the FCC facilitating small cells. “Texas, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico have all passed streamlining bills. Hawaii and California are pending,” he said. “I don’t believe we should have put small cells through zoning. There should be an agreed-upon form factor with the city, the industry has to do its part to build attractive sites that are compatible with existing residential areas and we should be able to pull a permit like any other right-of-way user.”

Recent rules adopted by the FCC, which exempted small cells from NEPA and SHPO regulations, will save the industry a lot of money and deployment time, according to Raja.

Schweizer cautioned streamlining regulations and legislation do not replace good relationships with municipalities. “There is no silver bullet,” he said. “Good state regulation does not obviate the need for government relations and being a trusted partner.”


J. Sharpe Smith
Senior Editor/eDigest
J. Sharpe Smith joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 27 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with  Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence.