T-Mobile is planning to increase its 4G footprint this year and the next, even as it anticipates real 5G standards arriving in 2019 or so.
T-Mobile's 4G network now covers 305 million people in the US. T-Mobile is expecting to add about 17% more coverage in the coming years, said CFO Braxton Carter this week.
"This will ramp over '16 and continue into '17," he said at the Deutsche Bank Telecom and Media analyst conference in Miami.
The carrier is also aiming to get more low-band coverage spectrum by bidding in the 600MHz spectrum auctions, which start later this month. There is a quiet period now in force ahead of the bidding, but T-Mobile has said that it could spend up to $10 billion to gain additional bandwidth.
T-Mobile has already worked out a deal with parent company, Deutsche Telekom, to help fund the auction. T-Mobile can sell DT $2 billion in senior notes. The operator can use the money to buy spectrum, refinance debt or for more general corporate purposes. (See TWC's Cooper Updates Cable’s Energy 2020 Program.)
CFO Carter meanwhile explained more about T-Mobile's 5G stance, saying it will wait for global standards in 2019/20 before pushing ahead with the new technology. This will allow the 5G ecosystem to develop and prevent it from having to rip out and replace any non-standard gear."We're certainly out there in trials of components of 5G," Carter said. (See T-Mobile to Test 5G With Nokia, Ericsson .)
Verizon, meanwhile, is pushing for 5G in 2017 because it needs new spectrum to be opened up as data traffic, driven by video, keeps increasing on its network. The T-Mobile CFO said he understood what was driving Big Red, but described the Verizon 5G technology as "non-standard." (See Verizon CEO: US Commercial 5G Starts in 2017.)
"It's something they have to do," Carter says.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading