T-Mobile Upgrades HSPA+, Trials LTE

T-Mobile US Inc. is busy this month installing more high-speed packet access-plus (HSPA+) equipment from its partners with Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Nokia Networks , while also trialing Long Term Evolution (LTE) in preparation for its 2013 launch.

T-Mobile SVP of Technology Dave Mayo provided some guidance on its network modernization efforts in a blog post last week, noting that it will install new equipment at its first 400 modernized GSM/HSPA+ sites this month. It plans to grow this to over 2,500 sites by the end of July.

T-Mobile has also secured zoning approval for 19,500 sites and has completed all the necessary entitlement work, such as securing building permits, for its first 4,000 sites. (See T-Mobile CTO: Our 4G Stands Up to LTE Rivals, T-Mobile Could Still Boost HSPA+ Speeds and NSN, Ericsson Win T-Mobile's LTE Business.)

"As new equipment is in place, we’re turning up some small scale tests of 4G HSPA+ service in our 1900 MHz spectrum," Mayo writes. "Some customers with unlocked iPhones recently saw evidence of those tests; clocking much faster data speeds at the Moscone West conference center in San Francisco."

More of these speed sightings will occur as T-Mobile introduces HSPA+ in its 1900MHz spectrum in a large number of markets later this year, Mayo adds. LTE trials are also under way, and T-Mobile will begin using Release-10 equipment in the trials this summer. "The ability to launch with this next version of LTE technology is one advantage of launching next year," Mayo says of the 2013 launch date. (See Where Will T-Mobile Bring LTE First? and T-Mobile Will Launch LTE in 2013.)

T-Mobile's progress and positive attitude was enough to convince Canaccord Genuity analyst Greg Miller that the carrier is on the road to recovery after the AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) fallout. The analyst spent a few days on the road with management from T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), and now he's drinking the Kool-Aid too.

"It is clear that the company has a well-thought-out campaign to return to the competitor it was only a few short years ago where it was gaining share relative to Sprint and some others as it offered some of the more creative value-based offerings in the market," Miller writes in a research note.

Miller adds that its LTE plan strategy will also help it improve network coverage and in-building penetration, even without the benefit of low-band spectrum. In addition, the cash it received from AT&T will help it launch "at least a minimal LTE footprint" and "fund its development from cash from operations in the US," he adds. (See T-Mobile Loads Up LTE Spectrum Ammo and T-Mobile Gets Spectrum in AT&T Breakup.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:29:59 PM
re: T-Mobile Upgrades HSPA+, Trials LTE

Even with LTE, I think the biggest way T-Mobile will compete is on pricing and being lower cost than its rivals. Canaccard seems to think more price cuts are coming from it soon.

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