T-Mobile Sets LTE Requirements

When it comes to 4G, T-Mobile International AG knows what it wants.

Since T-Mobile's CTO Joachim Horn recently disclosed to Unstrung that it wants to skip High-Speed Packet Access evolution (HSPA+) and deploy 4G technology Long-Term Evolution (LTE) as quickly as possible, the operator revealed further ambitions for the mobile broadband technology at the LTE World Summit in London this week. (See T-Mobile Beefs Up LTE Plans.)

Frank Meywerk, senior vice president of radio networks at T-Mobile, issued a set of technical and cost requirements that he said were critical for LTE's success.

Here's what T-Mobile wants:

First, the equipment can't be too expensive.

"We need to turn a big wheel in terms of production costs," said Meywerk. "LTE can be successful if production costs per Mbit/s decreases significantly, by more than a factor of 10. If we can't meet that, not sure LTE will be a success."

By that, he means he wants the total cost of ownership to be reduced dramatically. This is because data revenues are no longer proportional to data traffic volume increases, he explained. While data traffic is increasing, revenues are not going up at the same rate.

"The pricing of data services is a challenge," he said. "Production costs per Mbit/s must reflect pricing trends and decline."

T-Mobile will employ some cost saving techniques of its own as well. Meywerk suggested reusing existing 3G sites, network sharing, and an updated backhaul strategy.

"We'll build no new sites on the network grid and plug [LTE] on existing 2G and 3G sites. Network sharing [will be] one of the cost decreasing elements… maybe not infrastructure sharing."

For 4G backhaul, Meywerk said T-Mobile will have to go with fiber or high-capacity microwave, depending on the market, to have a flat cost in the backhaul network.

As for technical requirements, he stressed the need for self-organized networks and software upgrades.

"LTE has to be self-organizing and self-optimizing. Systems today and tomorrow know everything in terms of optimization and operating the networks."

T-Mobile also wants any LTE hardware to be software upgradeable. "This is absolutely important, especially for capacity growth and capacity expansions," said Meywerk.

T-Mobile also stoked the flames of interest around femtocells for LTE deployments and said that the small base stations would be important to supplement indoor coverage and boost capacity. (See Operators Eye LTE Metro Femtos.)

And of course, T-Mobile wants early availability of terminals in high numbers.

T-Mobile knows what it wants from LTE, but will the mobile operator get it? One audience member told Meywerk that his expectations were unrealistic.

But Meywerk defended the operator's goals.

"They must be realistic," he told Unstrung. "It's not just about low prices for equipment. Everything that makes UMTS expensive today has to be corrected in the future."

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:26:38 PM
re: T-Mobile Sets LTE Requirements This is what Sprint management said about their move to WiMax. To carry gobs of low value video or social networking bits at a profit, T-Mobile is right. The economics have to change. We cannot pay tribute to QCOMs for gobs of IP. What is wrong with using WiMax at T-Mobile, along with bring-your-own end devices? LTE is LATE.
Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 3:26:37 PM
re: T-Mobile Sets LTE Requirements WiMax at T-Mobile? I don't see it happening in Europe.

But at T-Mobile USA... is that possible? They've got their hands full with the 3G rollout at the moment. And LTE will arrive a LONG time after WiMax.
IPobserver 12/5/2012 | 3:26:32 PM
re: T-Mobile Sets LTE Requirements @materialgirl… I see your point, but I also think/hope there’s latent value latent in 3G networks that can be released with the right applications. Figuring that out has to go alongside lower production costs.
lrmobile_jepovic 12/5/2012 | 3:26:22 PM
re: T-Mobile Sets LTE Requirements As someone wrote here: Wimax is not the new CDMA. Wimax wishes it were the new CDMA.

Doesn't anyone get skeptical when the only major investment is made by an operator owned by the biggest supplier?
lrmobile_jepovic 12/5/2012 | 3:26:22 PM
re: T-Mobile Sets LTE Requirements LTE late? In Europe, the launch is planned by many operators for 2010.

And why would Wimax be cheaper? The volumes will be puny in comparison with LTE. There is one major operator dedicated for Wimax so far in the world, in one market. Everyone else is betting on LTE.

Sprint is making the same dumb nationalistic mistake as Lucent and Nortel did when they bet on CDMA. Look at them now.

Sprint will be bankrupt or sold off to a major european operator in less than five years, trust me.
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