Earlier this week, executives at America's third largest national carrier, T-Mobile US, explained that they do not envisage a notable increase in investment into their network in the next few years. T-Mobile US now handles 93% of its data over their LTE network, which offers considerably higher capacity compared with older generation 3G networks. Furthermore, T-Mobile US also handles over 60% of voice calls over VoLTE (Voice Over LTE, a technology that transfers calls over the data network, which is significantly more capacious than handling voice calls over a 2G or 3G network). The advantage to T-Mobile US handling so much of its traffic over the LTE network is that it reduces the need to set up more cell sites across the country.
T-Mobile US is still expecting an increase in data use in the coming years, but interestingly is not expecting to need to increase investment into their network over and above their current level in order to keep up with demand. LTE cell sites can handle many more connections than 3G masts at higher data transfer rates. With T-Mobile US handling the vast majority of its data use over the LTE network, this means that the company's network dollars are building out a more efficient network and the carrier is in a good position to be able to handle the expected increase in customer mobile data demand. T-Mobile US' Chief Financial Officer, Braxton Carter, explained that the company are planning on investing into the 600 MHz spectrum following the current FCC auction: "…it's a rolling investment, but we don't see any significant increase in capex on the horizon. Sure, it went up a little bit this year from last year, but you're talking a few hundred million dollars on a year to year-to-year basis as we continue to scale the network." In other words, T-Mobile will continue to refine their network technology with higher capacity sites and more advanced technologies.
T-Mobile US launched a new plan earlier in the year offering customers "unlimited" airtime, text messaging and data, but reserves the right to throttle customer's transfer speeds for heavy users in order to protect the network. America's Uncarrier believes that in due course it will be able to force Verizon Wireless, America's largest carrier and the the only national carrier without an unlimited plan, to offer its own "unlimited" plan, which is something Verizon Wireless does not believe it needs to offer: an opinion shared by many other carriers across the world. However, T-Mobile US' opinion is that customers want the promise of unlimited data and Verizon's approach of telling people that they don't need this is flawed.