T-Mobile turns on 20x20 MHz LTE service in Dallas

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T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) has deployed a 20x20 MHz LTE network in Dallas, which should give the carrier additional capacity in that market as it prepares for a wider rollout of 20x20 MHz LTE service.

T-Mobile quietly turned on the service just before Thanksgiving and has been mum about it until now, but the carrier said that its AWS spectrum has now been combined in Dallas with AWS airwaves originally held by MetroPCS. "We actually have been working on it for a little while," Grant Castle, a T-Mobile network vice president, told AllThingsD.

While Dallas is a major market, the fact that T-Mobile is turning on 20x20 MHz LTE deployments should not come as a surprise. In November T-Mobile said it had already combined MetroPCS' LTE spectrum in Las Vegas with T-Mobile's network and spectrum, doubling the LTE spectrum deployment and dramatically increasing data speeds for both T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers with capable devices.

The company said at the time expected to repurpose additional MetroPCS LTE spectrum in other cities, including New York City, before year-end, thereby expanding the channel size of T-Mobile's LTE network to at least 10x10 MHz in 40 out of the top 50 markets by year-end. T-Mobile said at the time it expected to start deploying 20x20 MHz LTE "widely" next year.

T-Mobile now has LTE service in 94 of the top 100 markets and plans to eventually cover 90 percent of the top 25 markets with 20x20 MHz LTE. T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said in November that rollout will include "substantial" deployments in 2014, and will be contingent on how quickly T-Mobile can repurpose MetroPCS' AWS spectrum. In trials of 20x20 MHz LTE, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in November that T-Mobile was seeing peak downlink speeds of 147 Mbps and uplink speeds of up to 40 Mbps, though those are likely going to be substantially reduced in real-world conditions.

Other carriers are beefing up capacity on their LTE networks. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) is planning to augment its LTE network in 50 different cities with AWS spectrum in the first half of 2014 to avoid potential capacity issues. Some of those deployments have already begun in markets across the country.

Sprint's (NYSE:S) forthcoming tri-mode LTE service, which it has dubbed "Sprint Spark," will start off using only 20 MHz of spectrum, but Sprint expects to add to that in the future using its 2.5 GHz spectrum it acquired from Clearwire. Using carrier aggregation, Sprint said it could have 60 MHz of spectrum for LTE in some markets using that spectrum.  

However, only certain handsets on Verizon and Sprint's network can take advantage of those capabilities, though those numbers will increase over time as the carriers seed their bases with advanced devices. Castle said T-Mobile's network migrations will work with all LTE-capable devices on its network.

MetroPCS COO Tom Keys told FierceWireless in November that he is working with handset makers to develop affordable LTE handsets for the more than 7 million customers left on Metro's legacy network, so that when they do migrate to the T-Mobile network they will be able to slide into affordable devices.

For more:
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this PC Magazine article

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