The competition among Tier 1 U.S. operators has never been more fevered than it is today. And much of the competitive bantering is focused on network speed and bandwidth.
T-Mobile USA was often viewed as the weaker player in the race to next-generation networks such as LTE or mobile WiMAX because it currently lacks the spectrum to upgrade to LTE. Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) already has an LTE network commercially available in 39 markets nationwide in the 700 MHz spectrum band. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) is planning to deploy LTE in its AWS and 700 MHz spectrum later this year, and Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) mobile WiMAX play works over Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) 2.5 GHz spectrum and is already deployed in 71 markets covering around 120 million POPs.
That's where T-Mobile's savvy CTO Neville Ray fits in. Under Ray's leadership, T-Mobile shocked the industry by moving full speed ahead with HSPA+, which it now brands as a 4G technology. The carrier argues its HSPA+ 21 network--which spans 100 markets and 200 million POPs--currently provides speeds comparable with WiMAX.
Further, just a few weeks ago at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Ray announced T-Mobile would upgrade to HSPA+ 42, covering 140 million POPs with the technology by the end of this year. Ray then fueled the competitive fires by stating that T-Mobile's HSPA+ 42 network will provide speeds comparable with Verizon's LTE network. Ray said T-Mobile has been testing T-Mobile's planned HSPA+ 42 upgrade against Verizon's LTE network in Las Vegas, and he said both networks provided average download speeds of around 8 Mbps.
And that's just part of the operator's plan. During a recent investor conference in New York, Ray and other executives outlined T-Mobile's turnaround plan, which includes aggressively pursuing the enterprise market and possible plans to sell its tower portfolio to raise money for spectrum purchases.
Clearly Ray is not someone to underestimate. T-Mobile's 4G play using HSPA+ was a brilliant move. We are going to be closely watching to see what other surprises Ray has in store for T-Mobile.