For the most part, the LTE networks here in the US are completely built out. Verizon and AT&T are complete, with T-Mobile almost done. While Sprint is still pretty far behind. What comes next is densifying that network and making sure that every connection has a decent speed. What happens a lot of times, is you have a lot of customers connecting to one tower. And all that speed and bandwidth is being shared between them all. With adding more and more people, you are getting slower and slower speeds, unfortunately. So carriers have started to densify their networks, Verizon has been using quite a few small cells in their network plan. And others are likely to follow suit.
We actually covered Verizon’s Small Cells earlier this year. Small Cells are basically a small tower that can be placed on a light pole or utility pole and expands the coverage as well as bandwidth for those in that area. Verizon has been deploying these in dense areas like downtowns, malls and arenas. Sprint is said to be using quite a few small cells in busy areas as well. Although they haven’t named any plans just yet.
In addition to small cells, carriers are also going to be investing in LTE Advanced features. As that is the next logical step for LTE networks. This includes getting carrier aggregation up and running. Verizon is already deploying carrier aggregation in their 20x20MHz spectrum channels. The carrier expects that this is going to allow them to offer spectrum channels in a larger than 20x20MHz configuration in the future.
Verizon has already spent $5.5 billion on their network in just the first half of 2015. And expect the overall spending in 2015 to reach $17.5 to $18 billion. Which we saw that Verizon is dedicated to their network when we toured their switching facility earlier this year. Sprint is looking to spend around $15 billion on its network in the next three years. With T-Mobile spending around $4.7 billion in 2015 and AT&T at about $18 billion. AT&T’s large number is mostly due to them buying those two Mexican carriers this year and building out their network.