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How Fast Will T-Mobile's LTE Be?

Dan Jones
1/24/2013
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One of the big questions around the upcoming T-Mobile USA launch of LTE-Advanced is just what kind of data speeds it will offer in its first markets. The only official word I've had from the operator is that its new network will offer theoretical peak speeds of 72 Mbit/s on the downlink. I should day that this was way back at the end of February 2012, so that may not even be the latest lab data. Real world speeds on the network could be quite different anyway. For instance, a reader asked about what size radio channels T-Mobile will launch on: 2x10MHz or 2X5MHz? This might seem like a minor point, but it's not. One of the ways that AT&T Inc. has managed to glean more speed than Sprint Nextel Inc. from its LTE deployments is because it has twice the bandwidth of Sprint to play with in some areas. T-Mobile has some of the same issues. It doesn't have enough spectrum to work with 2x10MHz channels in every market. Raw speed is not the only point of LTE-Advanced. The increased density of the network will result in better up-time and overall performance for end users quite apart from the speed. Data speeds, however, are one of the ways that operators have been selling 4G. It's arguably at least partly their fault if subscribers are conditioned to the need for speed. Anyhow, I did ask T-Mobile about expected speeds, channel sizes and various other issues. They're not commenting yet but promised an update -- presumably after the LTE network in Las Vegas goes live. I'll keep you updated when I know more. — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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QuantifyTalent
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QuantifyTalent,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/6/2013 | 9:31:26 PM
re: How Fast Will T-Mobile's LTE Be?
Perhaps faster if they adopt SmartAIR1000
http://www.reuters.com/article...
year2525
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year2525,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/6/2013 | 6:02:12 PM
re: How Fast Will T-Mobile's LTE Be?
They got heavily into leased fiber before the HSPA rollout.
nbattson
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nbattson,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/5/2013 | 9:38:16 PM
re: How Fast Will T-Mobile's LTE Be?
What backhaul solutions do T-Mobile employ round the states? Leased optical, or do they own a microwave network?
nbattson
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nbattson,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/5/2013 | 9:37:00 PM
re: How Fast Will T-Mobile's LTE Be?
-Thanks Milan03. This is useful data points.

For the AWS spectrum they can only use AIR as an antenna and the Radio will have to be a RRH instead (AIR is only active in the PCS spectrum I understand....unless there is a newer version). For 30 MHz (assuming you mean 30 MHz of Tx) they will need a wider BW radio with multi-standard support which is quite available and doable nowadays.

Any idea what T-Mobile spectrum holdings in San Francisco are?
nbattson
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nbattson,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/5/2013 | 9:30:02 PM
re: How Fast Will T-Mobile's LTE Be?
Yes. That's right! Lots of AIR going to T-Mobile and they have gone public about it. The datasheet for AIR also is pretty telling as it supports Band 2 (Active) and Band 4 (passive) in a single unit. Only T-Mobile want that really.

It is tunable the standard used and the number of carriers allocated within a 20 MHz BW. 20 MHz is the Max. So think 5MHz LTE and 3x5 MHz W-CDMA perhaps to start and transitioning over time to 15 MHz LTE with 1x5 MHz W-CDMA.
year2525
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year2525,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/29/2013 | 2:39:14 PM
re: How Fast Will T-Mobile's LTE Be?
-Yeah I forgot, we wrote about it last year! Supposedly the biggest deployment of AIR yet.
milan03
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milan03,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/28/2013 | 9:31:43 PM
re: How Fast Will T-Mobile's LTE Be?
Yeah they're using AIR at least in my neighborhood of NYC:

http://i.imgur.com/UPCm4.jpg-http://i.imgur.com/OqsxG.jpg-http://i.imgur.com/ltXqj.jpg
milan03
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milan03,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/28/2013 | 9:27:38 PM
re: How Fast Will T-Mobile's LTE Be?
Dan, thanks for following up on this subject! I've been unsuccessfully trying to get this info from T-Mobile myself.

In the meantime, I've managed to get some screenshots from T-Mobile users in Kansas, using an unlocked AT&T Note, and accessing T-Mobile's test network.-http://i.imgur.com/Wiaakkl.jpg http://i.imgur.com/oSHdBNr.jpg
Early speeds are in the 10mbps range both up and down.
It's in fact 5Mhz FDD-LTE in AWS C block, capable of 37mbps down and 12mbps up.Kansas is their 20Mhz AWS market and they had to leave 10Mhz for their HSPA+21 network. They've clearly scaled down their previously launched HSPA+42 AWS network in order to launch LTE. They do have plenty of PCS spectrum to launch HSPA+42 network in Kansas.

Vegas is still a mystery since they have 30Mhz of AWS. Will they launch 5Mhz FDD-LTE and keep HSPA+42, or scale down to HSPA+21 and launch 10Mhz FDD-LTE?

I guess we'll have to wait and see :)
year2525
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year2525,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/28/2013 | 2:37:35 PM
re: How Fast Will T-Mobile's LTE Be?
-Interesting. I don't believe they've officially said they're using AIR, what's your source? Seems like a sensible option to try and bring in the latest technology in this speed race for sure. DJ
nbattson
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nbattson,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/28/2013 | 5:44:30 AM
re: How Fast Will T-Mobile's LTE Be?
A lot of the T Mobile network is using the Ericsson AIR Radios that are capable of delivering 20 MHz of transmit BW. So it is really a question of spectrum holdings and how much of their 3G spectrum they are going to share with LTE. I imagine it wont be more than 10MHz to start with and then will widen as they offload 3G to their GSM spectrum band. Max holdings seem to be 30 MHz Tx, but imagine that is in a very few locations.
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