T-Mobile USA unveils network initiatives, LTE planned for 2013; iPhone on the horizon?

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Months after having its acquisition attempt by AT&T quashed by regulators, T-Mobile USA laid out its plans for remaining a strong No. 4 challenger in the market, including $4 billion in network investments leading to the launch of LTE services next year.

The carrier, which announced a similar network reinvigoration plan last year just prior to AT&T’s acquisition bid, said it plans to install new equipment at 37,000 cell sites and re-farm spectrum in the 1.9 GHz band currently used for its GSM-based services to launch HSPA+ services, which would then allow for the re-farming of its 1.7/2.1 GHz spectrum currently used for HSPA+ services to bolster the spectrum gleaned from the merger break up to launch LTE in the 1.7/2.1 GHz band.

T-Mobile USA’s management noted that the spectrum received from AT&T, which still needs to move through regulatory approval, will leave the carrier with approximately 60 megahertz of spectrum across the top 100 markets, an increase from its current 54 megahertz. In addition, the spectrum moves will leave the carrier with a more harmonious spectrum position with HSPA services running in the 1.9 GHz band similar to AT&T Mobility and LTE services running in the 1.7/2.1 GHz band similar to plans for both AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless. This should allow the carrier to be a better match for offering Apple’s iPhone device, which in its current form taps the 1.9 GHz band for HSPA access.

T-Mobile USA claims that the $4 billion in network investments over the next two year, representing $1.4 billion in incremental network investments, along with the spectrum re-farming will allow it to launch “broad” LTE coverage in the top 50 markets and operate with 20 megahertz of spectrum in 75% of the top 25 markets. The carrier will continue to rely on its HSPA+ services that it claims currently cover more than 200 million potential customers.

There was no word from the carrier on where it might get the additional funds, nor if those funds would come from parent company Deutsche Telekom, which pocketed $3 billion in break-up fees from AT&T.

In addition to the network enhancements, T-Mobile USA said it will also aggressively pursue the enterprise market, once a staple for its BlackBerry offering; add 1,000 sales positions; ramp up its already considerable advertising and marketing efforts; and target mobile virtual network operators for hosting on its network.

The carrier is holding a press conference this morning to provide more details on its plans. Stay tuned to RCR Wireless News for more information.

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Dan Meyer

Editor-in-Chief, Telecom Software, Policy, Wireless Carriers
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Dan Meyer started at RCR Wireless News in 1999 covering wireless carriers and wireless technologies. As editor-in-chief, Dan oversees editorial direction, reports on news from the wireless industry, including telecom software, policy and wireless carriers, and provides opinion stories on topics of concern to the market such as his popular Friday column “Worst of the Week.”