T-Mobile has begun a $4 billion upgrade, involving network modernization and deployment of long term evolution (LTE) service in 2013.
By the end of this month, T-Mobile expects new equipment to be installed at their first 400 modernized GSM / HSPA+ sites and plan to grow this to over 2,500 sites by the end of July.
The company is running tests for HSPA+ on their 1900MHz spectrum, which helps unlocked iPhone owners that can’t currently use T-Mobile’s AWS band for HSPA+ service, notes Fierce Wireless.
The company also says they’ll be conducting LTE release-10 (LTE Advanced) trials this summer. Release 10 supports carrier aggregation, the ability to use separate spectrum bands in a single service.
Why is carrier aggregation important? If you read the tea leaves, perhaps it indicates that T-Mobile and Dish Networks could team up. Dish has 40 MHz available on the adjacent 2.1 GHz band.
T-Mobile may also be among the first to deploy Voice over LTE. To date most LTE networks have focused only on data, offloading overloaded 3G nets that continue to carry voice.
T-Mobile USA subscribers with smartphones capable of accessing the carrier’s HSPA+ 42 Mbps network consume an average of 1.3 GB per month.
That figure is almost double the 760 MB per month that T-Mobile said its overall smartphone user base consumes, and it highlights the fact that users generally consume more mobile data if they have access to a faster network.
According to Chetan Sharma Consulting, roughly 30 percent of all U.S. smartphone users download more than 1 GB of data per month.
Currently, T-Mobile offers an HSPA+42 network covering 184 million POPs in 185 markets, and its HSPA+21 network covers around 220 million POPs.
T-Mobile USA has repeatedly cited Verizon’s unused AWS in the East Coast as evidence that Verizon is warehousing its spectrum. The AWS licenses Verizon is working to purchase from Cable operators covers 94 percent of the U.S. population and will substantially increase Verizon’s AWS holdings.
AT&T’s CEO, Randall Stephenson says the 50MHz of wireless spectrum the FCC expects to auction as part of the broadcast incentive auctions won’t be enough to satisfy growing demand. “By 2013 demand [for wireless data services in the U.S.] will outstrip supply,” he said at the TIA 2012 show, last week. But this week at a meeting with AT&T’s management held in New York Wednesday night, AT&T executives reportedly said the company has enough spectrum for the next five years.