There’s no question that the future of cell phone providers lies with 4G, or LTE to be exact, and every company out there is working hard at laying out their high speed network to offer their customers the highest speed they can, and claim that they too are on board with the latest technologies. The race is on, and in fact has been on for some time now, but T-Mobile is the last one on the track, most likely because of their potential merger deal with AT&T which fell flat late last year. Now, the company announced that their USA LTE roll out plan is well under way.
In a press release last week T-Mobile USA announced that they will be spending $4 billion dollars in order to get their very own 4G network up and running by next year. All the other big providers in the country, including AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, all have their LTE networks working in many regions of the country. While coverage is still mostly limited to major cities, it’s growing fast. T-Mobile however has claimed for a long time that their current HSPA+ network was sufficient. In reality, HSPA+ can be considered a 3.5G network, where as it actually uses 3G phones and devices, but it provides download speeds that are slightly superior to 3G. But LTE offers a lot more, and is clearly the technology of the future, with every provider around the world moving in this direction. It was becoming very hard for T-Mobile to keep ignoring the switch.
The reality is that most analysts believe the company was simply hoping that its merger with AT&T would solve everything, and that they wouldn’t have to face this decision. But now that this isn’t going to happen, the cell phone provider has no choice but to bite the bullet. This $4 billion will be their biggest investment so far, and their aim is to have 50 major markets with LTE support by next year. Although the desire is clear, the details are less so. There’s still no word on which markets these will be, and when exactly they will all start getting coverage. Perhaps of more importance is the complete lack of details on which 4G phones will be available from the company. All of this will come in time, which is yet another reminder that when it comes to LTE, T-Mobile is simply not in the race quite yet.
From the few information we do know, it would appear that T-Mobile has at least solved its spectrum crisis. Because of the lack of spectrum, it couldn’t allocate enough frequencies to build yet another network. Now, it appears that their older 2G network is going to get some amputation done, where some of that spectrum will be reallocated for the new project. T-Mobile assures customers that they will keep supporting 2G for some time, but is quick to remind us that over 90% of customers now buy 3G smartphones.