T-Mobile exceeds mid-year LTE deployment goal, hits 116 markets

T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) finally broke its silence regarding its LTE footprint by announcing that its LTE service is now deployed in 116 markets nationwide, covering 157 million POPs.

The operator, which exceeded its mid-year goal of having 100 million POPs covered, said that it now has LTE available in 73 of the top 100 markets in the U.S. Speaking at a media event in New York City, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said his team "smashed" the goal of 100 million POPs, exceeding it by 57 million POPs. Plus, he noted that the company only started on its LTE network at the end of 2012. By comparison, Ray said that T-Mobile competitor Sprint (NYSE:S) has been working on its LTE network since late 2010 and has only deployed the technology in 22 markets. Sprint said at the end of first quarter that it expects to cover 200 million POPs with LTE by the end of the year, depending on backhaul availability, which is significantly lower than Sprint's original goal of having 250 million POPs covered with LTE by year's end.

Ray said that customers on the company's LTE network are experiencing download speeds in the 10 Mbps to 20 Mbps range. In addition, he noted that T-Mobile's customers using the iPhone 5 will have a better experience than iPhone 5 users on AT&T's (NYSE:T) network because T-Mobile's network is backward compatible to HSPA+42, which is deployed in 300 markets nationwide. AT&T, said Ray, didn't upgrade to HSPA+42, so its iPhone 5 users have a device that is backward compatible to HSPA+24.

Interestingly, Ray also said that about 50 percent of T-Mobile's LTE network uses a 10x10 MHz spectrum configuration while the remaining uses a 5x5 MHz configuration. T-Mobile has said it would use a 10x10 MHz configuration throughout most of its LTE network, but with its acquisition of MetroPCS, the company plans to merge MetroPCS' existing LTE network into its own LTE network giving it 20x20 MHz of LTE in some markets.  The company also plans to refarm MetroPCS' 1900 MHz CDMA spectrum for HSPA+ services.

T-Mobile launched its first seven LTE markets in late March. Some of the new markets where T-Mobile's LTE network is available include New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, Seattle, Atlanta, Miami and more.

For more:
- see this release
- see this related analysis from Roger Entner
- see this related FierceWireless article

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