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T-Mobile Expands Its LTE Footprint Via 700 MHz Spectrum

January 7, 2016 - Written By Kishalaya Kundu

Speaking on Wednesday at the Citi Internet, Media and Telecommunications conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, the senior management at T-Mobile claimed that in 2015, the carrier’s LTE footprint within the US expanded geographically by almost 250 percent (that’s three and a half times), covering as many as 304 POPs (points of presence). The Chief Technology Officer at the company, Mr. Neville Ray, attributed most of that impressive expansion to the carrier’s deployment of the 700 MHz ‘A’ block spectrum (Band 12), which was secured by T-Mo back in 2014. The large-scale deployment of the low-band spectrum helped the company narrow its gap with the two leading carriers in the country, Verizon and AT&T, by making its LTE network available to as many as 185 million people around the nation.

Elaborating on the issue, Mr. Ray said, “Originally we had 190 million licensed POPs of 700 coverage; by the end of ’15 we rolled out 185 million. Nobody has ever rolled out that much LTE with new spectrum with broadcasters to clear, zoning and jurisdictional battles to go through”. Not all of T-Mobile’s subscribers, however, are reaping the rewards of the deployment of the new, low-band spectrum by the carrier. Only around half of T-Mobile’s LTE customers use a Band 12 compatible handset, which in itself wouldn’t have been that remarkable, had it not been for the fact that only around 60 percent of the carrier’s customers access its LTE network in the first place. Meaning, less than a third of the carrier’s customers actually has access to LTE on Band 12 overall.

Mr. Ray also insisted that T-Mobile is in a better position vis- -vis its competitors, when it comes to moving away from legacy second and third-generation services (GSM & HSPA/UMTS). According to him, forty percent of all voice calls made by T-Mobile customers are on LTE. Taking a not-so-subtle dig at its competitors, he claimed that, “moving into an IP era of communications – voice, RCS, video, VoLTE, all those pieces – we are the most advanced on that, hands-down”. Mr. Ray also said that the carrier will “aggressively” target the 600 MHZ spectrum blocks that will be up for grabs at the upcoming incentive auctions in an effort to expand its LTE services to newer markets over the next couple of years.