T-Mobile USA said today that starting next year, it will use the AWS frequencies it got from AT&T, with some refarmed spectrum, and make a US$1.4 billion network investment, to launch LTE services. Following the break-up of its proposed merger with AT&T, Deutsche Telekom received AWS spectrum in the US and US$3 billion in cash from its former suitor.
T-Mobile will invest a total of $4 billion over time into network modernization and LTE deployment. Over the next two years, this represents approximately $1.4 billion in incremental network investment. T-Mobile expects to reach broad deployment of LTE, with service in the vast majority of the top 50 markets and 20 MHz service in 75 percent of the top 25 markets.
T-Mobile’s 4G HSPA+ network currently covers over 200 million people, and will continue to deliver service. They will deploy LTE in the AWS band.
As part of the breakup fee, T-Mobile got AWS spectrum from AT&T in 128 market areas, including in 12 of the top 20 markets in the United States: Atlanta, Boston, Baltimore, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
T-Mobile USA noted “significant challenges, in its 4Q earnings report. In the fourth quarter alone, it lost 802,000 contract customers. It is planning a re-launch of the T-Mobile brand, and is looking to improve its performance in the business sector.
On a group level, the international operator said it had “met its financial targets for the 2011 financial year despite a difficult business environment for the telecommunications industry as a whole.”
DT noted that the number of smartphones as a proportion of total devices sold increased to 62 percent, with almost 500,000 iPhones sold in the fourth quarter alone – its biggest ever quarter for this device. T-Mobile USA, meanwhile, is the only one of the four major carriers in the United States that doesn’t carry Apple’s best selling iPhone.
Everything Everywhere, the broadband wireless arm combining both Orange and T-Mobile, said it was on track to complete the upgrade of its network to 21Mb/s HSPA+ technology by Q3 2012, while the new 4G trial at 1800MHz will begin in Bristol from April.
The UK’s 4G spectrum auctions are not scheduled until late this year, so Everything Everywhere’s LTE launch will depend on UK regulator Ofcom allowing it using existing spectrum for 4G services.
Everything Everywhere says the Bristol trial will be “the UK’s first 4G LTE trials over 1800MHz,” and would give the operator “key learnings on the performance of 4G LTE over its existing 1800MHz spectrum.” It complements Everything Everywhere’s customer trial of 4G technology over 800MHz spectrum in rural Cornwall, launched in September 2011.
The firm also said it was also entering the “final phase” of its initiative to combine the 3G networks of Orange UK and T-Mobile UK, with completion due in mid-May.