Light Reading
Why T-Mobile doesn't care too much about small cells or DAS... yet.

T-Mobile: Small Cells? We're Dense Already

Dan Jones
8/22/2014
50%
50%

Ever wonder why AT&T and Verizon are talking about small cells now, yet T-Mobile remains mostly quiet about its use of the tiny basestations that add network density and capacity to 4G LTE?

It all comes down to how the T-Mobile US Inc. network was originally deployed, according to recent comments from CFO Braxton Carter. T-Mobile started with mid-band spectrum -- namely the 2100/1700MHz AWS band -- rather than the 700MHz bands that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless started with.

Carter says that T-Mobile's network was "much more dense" from the buildout. "One macro [cell-site] of low band is equivalent to three mid-band sites, that's the rule of thumb," Carter said at a recent Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. conference. (See T-Mobile CFO Eyes Dish, Growth Opportunities.)

"Our ratio of megahertz [MHz] PoPs [points of presence] to subscribers is 1.7 to 1 and you look at AT&T and Verizon they have a ratio of 1 to 1, so, what that means is we have a lot more un-utilized spectrum that we can put to play," Carter said. "The reason AT&T and Verizon are having to densify to the extent that they are is that they don’t have the spectrum and the way they add capacity is by adding density."

Of course, T-Mobile, with just over 50 million subscribers, also has less than half the number of subscribers of AT&T and Verizon respectively.


Keep up with all the small cell news on our dedicated channel here on Light Reading.


Nonetheless, it is instructive to compare recent comments from the T-Mobile CFO and Verizon CFO. "The reason our capex will not decline is because in wireless you have to build out these small cells, these antenna systems and in-building coverage if you want to stay ahead of the capacity," Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said in August. [Ed note: Jeez, is it a competition to find the CFO with the most off-beat name for wireless carriers?] (See Verizon Beefing Up Network for VoLTE, Multicast Video.)

While T-Mobile's Carter said that the operator already has some distributed antennas and small cells in place and the prospects for small cells are "interesting," but it is clear that the operator is more focused on improving coverage with its freshly acquired 700MHz low-band spectrum. (See T-Mobile: Going Bananas for Low-Band .)

The carrier has started to add 700MHz sites to its network and will "seed the market" with compatible handsets in the fourth quarter. Adding low-band will allow T-Mobile to improve coverage in many suburban and rural areas in the US.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

(17)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
DanJones
50%
50%
DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
8/25/2014 | 10:53:55 AM
Re: Marketing
Possible, I'm sure users don't care to know if they have a small cell or DAS nearby.
kq4ym
50%
50%
kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/25/2014 | 9:49:18 AM
Re: Marketing
That probably is a good reason, no comment doesn't bring attention to T-Mobile. I'm wondering though, if all the carriers could go back in time would they have made the same decisions on which soectrum to choose to rely on. That might be an interesting "if we could do it again" question.
Phil_Britt
50%
50%
Phil_Britt,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/25/2014 | 8:49:04 AM
Marketing
I think the real reason T-Mobile has remained silent about small cells is that the others have made such a big deal about it that anything T-Mobile would say would just be "me, too" marketing, So T-Mobile is relying on other messaging.
MordyK
50%
50%
MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/23/2014 | 12:19:24 AM
Re: Manifest density
The problem with introducing a new unsupported band is that even when you perform an upgrade, the user does  not experience any service improvement unlike the addition of a new cell site or a small cell. Perhaps TMOB should create a serious device exchange program for customers looking for new service, or a loaner to check out what your coverage will be like with the new band included.

Wi-Fi is a can of womrs due to the lack of any QoS capabilities, although I certainly understand why TMOB pushed it when it had no better answers. 

Another point on Wi-Fi. If I wanted to rely on Wi-Fi for calls I'd go with Republic and save a bundle.
milan03
50%
50%
milan03,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/22/2014 | 11:52:45 PM
Re: Manifest density
Lack of low band spectrum is certianly a valid point, but with WiFi Calling integration in the next major iOS release they may actually be able to compete. Also 700MHz A block will come in handy for VoLTE traffic hopefully soon. 

At this point, it's up to them to aggressively seed the market with VoLTE/700a capable UE.
MordyK
50%
50%
MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/22/2014 | 11:45:58 PM
Re: Manifest density
I'm referring to the lack of investment overall, although the urban side has been getting real investment over the last few years with visible results. But the lack of low-band spectrum has always left them with poor indoor coverage, and as was highlighted over 80% of traffic is indoors.
milan03
50%
50%
milan03,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/22/2014 | 11:28:10 PM
Re: Manifest density
@MordyK:

I'm assuming that the coverage you're talking about has to do with T-Mobile's lack of investment in the rural environment. That's absolutely true, and they're finally in the process of upgrading EDGE areas to LTE. Their goal is H2 2015, which is very optimistic but possible.

But since they've been investing mostly into urban areas up until recently, their network's cell density in top matkets is second to none as their cell sites have been spaced for PCS (and later AWS) spectrum since the early days. They were simply forced to deploy dense grid and now it's paying off as they're the only Tier 1 operator in position to deploy solid VoLTE (eSRVCC) experience across the entire LTE footprint. That paired with many years of experience providing WiFi Calling could be very valuable for overall consumer experience, but also for T-Mobile's netowrk efficiency.

So in NYC for instance they have 3-to-1 ratio in terms of the amount of macros when compared to Verizon/AT&T, and when you consider significantly lower subscriber base, that's an extremely compelling user experience! 
brooks7
50%
50%
brooks7,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/22/2014 | 6:36:24 PM
Re: Manifest density
Dan, I thought that the reuse of their UMA infrastructure was part of it as well. seven
DanJones
100%
0%
DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
8/22/2014 | 5:10:06 PM
Re: Manifest density
Which is why they've been so big on WiFi Calling of course, so you get WiFi cover indoors.
brooks7
50%
50%
brooks7,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/22/2014 | 5:05:10 PM
Re: Manifest density
I have T-Mobile and just use WiFi when I am indoors.  I have a Samsung Galaxy 3 and thus have WiFi calling.  So, I think indoors is not much of an issue nowadays.

seven

 
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
More Blogs from Jonestown
Google is now backing or actively exploring three ways of delivering cheaper Internet connectivity to the world: satellites, drones and balloons.
Flying killers turn into duckface enablers!
The scary thing is that this massive Las Vegas show could get even bigger, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT).
The FAA has put out a holiday how-to video about the rules surrounding any shiny new drone for you get for Christmas.
Maybe the point of Apple Global SIM goes beyond offering consumers a brief whiff of choice when using their shiny new iPad.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Documentaries
Optical Is Hot in 2015

1|23|15   |   01:56   |   (2) comments


Optical comms technology underpins the whole communications sector and there are some really hot trends set for 2015.
LRTV Custom TV
Policy Control in the Fast Lane

1|22|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


What's making policy control strategic in 2015 and beyond? Amdocs talks with Graham Finnie from Heavy Reading about some of the key factors driving change in the data services landscape. Find out what his policy management research reveals about the road ahead for policy control.
LRTV Documentaries
Highlights From the 2020 Vision Executive Summit

1|21|15   |   4:33   |   (2) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading brought together telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Cisco's Doug Webster shared his company's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Harmonic, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment with Huawei

1|20|15   |   5:42   |   (1) comment


At IBC, Peter Alexander, Senior Vice President & CMO at Harmonic, speaks about the growing interest in pay-TV service and its branching into multiple devices.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sony Marketing Director Olivier Bovis Discusses the Outlook for 4K and Cooperation With Huawei at IBC 2014

1|20|15   |   6:50   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Envivio, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment

1|20|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Pay-TV's Networked Future

1|20|15   |   6:29   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about the future of the pay-TV industry and its transition.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Jeff Heynen: Distributed Access Will Help MSOs Compete in the Future

1|20|15   |   2:26   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about moving to distributed access and the future trend of cable business.
LRTV Interviews
Cisco Talks Transformation

1|20|15   |   13:02   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Cisco VP of Products & Solutions Marketing Doug Webster at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Cisco's approach to network virtualization as well as how service providers can begin to monetize high-capacity networks through the end of the decade.
LRTV Interviews
Bob Wilson, Arsenal Legend: The Light Reading Interview

1|16|15   |   35:36   |   (3) comments


Arsenal goalkeeping legend Bob Wilson was Light Reading's guest interviewee at the 2020 Vision Executive Summit in December. See what the former soccer star and sports broadcaster had to say when he took to the stage in Iceland.
LRTV Custom TV
What MEF Third Network Initiative Means for SDN & NFV

1|14|15   |   6:13   |   (0) comments


Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Martin Nuss discusses the importance of the MEF Third Network initiative and why it's good news for SDN/NFV industry initiatives.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Frank Miller: Distributed Solutions are the Best Build for the Future - Part II

1|9|15   |   2:46   |   (0) comments


At SCTE, Frank Miller, Global CTO of MSO at Huawei, speaks about Cable 2.0 and its innovative future.
Upcoming Live Events
February 5, 2015, Washington, DC
February 19, 2015, The Fairmont San Jose, San Jose, CA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 9-10, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2-3, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
Infographics
Hot Topics
Cuomo Unveils Broadband Aid Program
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 1/19/2015
BlackBerry Wants Net Neutrality Protection -- That's Just Sad
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 1/22/2015
FiOS Picks Up Pace Again
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 1/22/2015
Verizon Ready for Google MVNO Challenge
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 1/22/2015
Indiana Carrier Takes Fiber to the Farm
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 1/22/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive