MWC: T-Mobile Plans Comeback on LTE

MWC: T-Mobile Plans Comeback on LTE

T-Mobile will abandon its plans for expanding its HSPA-plus network in favor of LTE, the carrier announced at the Mobile World Conference 2012.

Previously, the fourth-place carrier said it will double its HSPA-plus 42-megabits per second network to 84 megabits. Those plans won’t go through, however, as T-Mobile instead invests in a LTE network.

The moves comes at time when T-Mobile, like all carriers, is attempting to best manage its spectrum resources to support the growing smartphone and tablet consumer base. Instead of developing an outdated resource like HSPA-plus, T-Mobile is choosing LTE, signaling an interest in staying current in the wireless market for the future.

T-Mobile will invest $4 billion in the LTE network, setting up infrastructure for the next wave of high-speed network usage. The decision is expected to boost T-Mobile as it steadies its footing after the failed buyout from AT&T. T-Mobile acquired a settlement that included $1 billion in spectrum and $3 billion, which will help fund the LTE network.

T-Mobile is looking to launch the LTE-enabled iPhone 5 when it comes out this year, a first for the carrier, and the LTE network will provide service for customers who convert to the device.

LTE, combined with the iPhone 5, will likely T-Mobile attract new customers, and keep current customers interested in Apple’s device.

The move underscores T-Mobile’s building competitive momentum, and the implementation of LTE could be a valuable investment during an industry-wide spectrum crunch. By using its infrastructure and financial resources to build a LTE network, T-Mobile positions itself to support top-of-the-line devices as they come out. A stronger LTE platform also also increases T-Mobile’s value to another carrier in a merger, similar to the one proposed by AT&T.

Top competitors, AT&T and Verizon, are already well on their way to success with high-speed LTE networks. Verizon plans to make all its devices LTE, while AT&T is competing by rolling out new devices that includes the first-ever LTE-powered Windows phone.

In order to get the LTE network up and running, T-Mobile will use the spectrum it allocated for HSPA-plus 82-megabits per second, which will lessen the 2G network. T-Mobile is slowly phasing out 2G-compatible devices, but the move shouldn’t affect existing customers.

T-Mobile has lagged behind Verizon and AT&T in the market, but choosing to invest in LTE over HSPA-plus is a strategy to keep pace. If T-Mobile unrolls it fast enough, it could reclaim consumers who’ve branched out in the name of the latest and greatest handset technologies.

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