T-Mobile believes it will have more LTE spectrum than AT&T or Verizon Wireless by 2015, when they finally finish their LTE network merger with MetroPCS, reports C/Net’s Roger Cheng. The goal is to acquire 2 x 20 MHz of AWS spectrum for LTE Advanced.
By contrast, AT&T and Verizon have 2 x 10 MHz of operational LTE spectrum in the 700 MHz band, while Sprint has only 2 x 5 MHz in the PCS (1.9 GHz) band. Sprint hopes to acquire another 2 x 5 MHz in the adjoining band and owns about half of Clearwire, which controls some 120 MHz (unpaired) in the 2.6 GHz band.
T-Mobile’s $4 billion upgrade will begin in ernest next year, when it moves to LTE-Advanced. T-Mobile plans to reach 200 million people with LTE by the end of next year, although that estimate doesn’t include the spectrum from MetroPCS. T-Mobile says a doubling of capacity will start in 2014, with completion of the roll-out by 2015.
Getting MetroPCS users off their CDMA networks will be a top priority. T-Mobile plans to shut down the MetroPCS CDMA network by 2015, decommissioning 90 percent of its cell sites.
The combined spectrum on T-Mobile and MetroPCS’s in New York will exceed that of every carrier, with Verizon being the closest, according to T-Mobile’s Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray.
Until the deal closes, T-Mobile is largely relying on its HSPA+ service to keep customers in the fold. T-Mobile plans to keep the MetroPCS 6,000 distributed antenna systems used to improved coverage inside buildings, and ensure compatibility with HSPA+ and LTE.