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T-Mobile to Debut LTE-A 'Features' in 2013

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor

T-Mobile US is planning to add LTE-Advanced features to its new 4G network before the end of 2013.

"We'll begin rolling out LTE-Advanced features later this year," Dave Mayo, senior vice president of technology, strategy, finance and development at T-Mobile, said at Light Reading's Backhaul Strategies for Mobile Operators event in New York City on Tuesday.

Mayo didn't specifically reveal which LTE-Advanced features will arrive first on the T-Mobile network. After being late to the LTE party, T-Mobile was able to base its initial deployment -- launched this year -- on the 3GPP's Release 10 specification, which is the basis of LTE-Advanced. (See T-Mobile's 4G Advance: Where LTE Goes After Vegas.)

The key updates in LTE-Advanced include: "carrier aggregation" techniques that bond together two or more separate radio channels to get faster data speeds; two-by-two smart antenna arrays -- also known as 2x2 multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) -- for faster uplink and downlink; and relay nodes, low-power base stations that provide improved coverage and capacity at the cell edge. (See Why You Should Care About LTE-Advanced (Eventually).)

Carrier aggregation is likely to be a desirable initial update for T-Mobile as the operator is running both AWS (1700MHz/2100MHz) frequencies and 1900MHz spectrum.

Light Reading Mobile asked Mayo what percentage of antennas T-Mobile expects to upgrade to MIMO this year. "A few," Mayo replied, and then laughed.

Mayo says T-Mobile is currently focused on upgrading its macro network with LTE. "We're upgrading about 37,000 of our 52,000 cell sites," he confirmed. This will include tower-top electronics for about 3Db more of gain for a stronger 4G signal.

For Mayo, this means small cells are on the radar but will be used to add capacity as the major leg-work of upgrading the macro network gets done.

"Small cells are absolutely going to be required," he stated at the show. "We'll be leveraging small cells to a much greater degree."

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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User Rank: Blogger
8/16/2013 | 3:36:27 PM
So any bets on what features?
Any ideas on LTE-A features deployed readers?
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/1/2013 | 11:20:52 AM
re: T-Mobile to Debut LTE-A 'Features' in 2013
Doesn't sound like MIMO is first priority though.
User Rank: Light Beer
7/1/2013 | 1:03:20 AM
re: T-Mobile to Debut LTE-A 'Features' in 2013
MIMO is where it's at. The technology really makes a difference, I believe.
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/26/2013 | 12:58:39 PM
re: T-Mobile to Debut LTE-A 'Features' in 2013
3G/4G urban sites, he gave the impression that rural sites will take longer.
User Rank: Light Beer
6/25/2013 | 10:06:32 PM
re: T-Mobile to Debut LTE-A 'Features' in 2013
Somebody should've asked why only 37k sites
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/25/2013 | 5:37:39 PM
re: T-Mobile to Debut LTE-A 'Features' in 2013
So, it seems like carrier aggregation is first in the US, with MIMO and the nodes (phantom cells) being a more distant priority.
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