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T-Mobile & LTE

1:45 PM -- There's a lot of fuss going on right now over the fact that T-Mobile US Inc. isn't planning to move to Long Term Evolution (LTE) for at least two years.

Frankly, I'm not quite sure why the operator needs to rush into LTE right now. It has High-Speed Packet Access Plus (HSPA+) upgrades underway, and it seems that the 3G technology will keep pace with early LTE deployments in the download speed race for a while in the US. (See T-Mobile's HSPA+ Rivals Clearwire, US LTE Speeds.)

As long as the download speeds are acceptable, I see T-Mobile as much more likely to compete on 3G plan prices and devices. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) has already imposed a $10 monthly additional charge to use its "4G" phones, and Verizon has suggested that customers will pay a premium for LTE, so there's an opportunity there. (See Verizon's LTE: How Much More $$ Than 3G?) Like AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), T-Mobile is probably also betting that HSPA+ devices will be cooler than early LTE smartphones. This is because 3G is a mature technology and vendors are likely to have fewer problems with things like chip availability and battery life.

Make no mistake, LTE in the US will eventually supplant 3G as the preferred mobile broadband pipe. T-Mobile -- and to a lesser extent, AT&T -- are just gambling that it will take longer than Verizon might expect. Given how long it actually took for 3G devices that people wanted to arrive in the US, they might be making a good bet.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

FredStein 12/5/2012 | 4:26:30 PM
re: T-Mobile & LTE

Exactly as you say, 3G usage did not kick right away. When the iPhone used the network as it was intended - kaboom. Now AT&T is struggling to upgrade the network with the latest advances just to keep up.


Meanwhile, over the next 2 years, CPUs and NPUs will go through one more Moore's law cycle. The folks who deploy later, will install networking gear with twice throughput per dollar, per watt, per rack-unit.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:26:29 PM
re: T-Mobile & LTE

I suspect it'll happen quicker with LTE, since designers seem to have their finger on the pulse of the market now. Still, I think HSPA+ phones are likely to be slicker than early LTE devices in terms of size and battery life for a lil while.

m__reed 12/5/2012 | 4:26:27 PM
re: T-Mobile & LTE

Dan, good observation and something I think has been overlooked with LTE at the top of the hype cycle, when you combine HSPA with multiple carriers the differences to LTE become very small, if you add to that low cost small cell deployments there is an argument to say that this could delay the need for LTE even further.

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