T-Mobile expands 4G HSPA+ network, spins late LTE arrival as an advantage

March 13, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka



T-Mobile USA today announced the expansion of its 4G HSPA+ network in several rural areas. Texans in Abilene, Amarillo, Odessa, and Victoria now have faster network speeds on HSPA+ capable devices. So do customers in Bakersfield, CA; Eau Claire, Wis.; Joplin and St. Joseph, MO.

But HSPA+ is not a long-term solution for T-Mobile USA’s 4G needs. For that, The Magenta Clan will have to turn to LTE, which the company has already confirmed it will do in 2013. Despite being the last of the major U.S. carriers to offer LTE service, T-Mobile doesn’t feel it will face a disadvantage against bigger rivals. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

“We have the advantage of coming to market at a time when the price points on LTE devices and network infrastructure will be coming down and the performance of LTE devices and network infrastructure will be improving,” T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said in a T-Mobile USA blog post. “We plan to deploy LTE release 10 compatible equipment, so we’ll be well-positioned and ready to move to LTE Advanced.”

Ray argues that by building out its LTE networks at a time when AT&T, Verizon, and now Sprint have already invested billions, T-Mobile will be able to build its network at a more cost-efficient rate. It will also have the benefit of newer technology. And despite having said it had “no clear path to LTE” during the failed AT&T merger, T-Mobile can now build a network thanks to the $4 billion cash and spectrum allotments AT&T delivered to the company as a result of the acquisition failing to get approval.

In the meantime, T-Mobile will rely on its HSPA+ network. Ray even left open the possibility of supporting HSPA+ 84, and noted that T-Mobile is “America’s Largest 4G Network, reaching well over 200 million people in 225 markets.” Of course, it’s not the only carrier laying claim to having the largest 4G network, and T-Mobile’s continuously falling number of subscribers won’t make much difference whose network is biggest if the company can’t get people to join it.

Ray went on to state that as LTE is deployed, T-Mobile will adjust its existing spectrum in order to be “compatible with a broader range of devices, including the iPhone.” Those adjustments should also lead to better call coverage in homes.