T-Mobile likely to deploy HSPA+ 84 but not ruling out LTE

LAS VEGAS--With its newly awarded breakup fees of $3 billion in cash and $3 billion in AWS spectrum, T-Mobile USA is now scurrying to figure out the best technology road map for its network and, according to its CTO Neville Ray, that plan will likely include deploying HSPA+ 84 or possibly even LTE.

As a result of AT&T's (NYSE:T) decision last month to no longer pursue its $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA from parent Deutsche Telekom due to growing opposition from regulators and competitors, T-Mobile received a breakup package that included $3 billion in cash, some roaming agreements with AT&T, and a large package of AWS spectrum in 128 Cellular Market Areas (CMAs), including 12 of the top 20 markets. 

In an interview with FierceWireless, Ray indicated that the company could deploy HSPA+ 84 but does face some hurdles. "The network will be ready and can support HSPA+ 84 mid-year," Ray said. "But devices are the difficulty. We are working with the OEMs."

He added that although chipmaker Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) has said that it will not produce HSPA+ 84 enabled chipsets until the second quarter of 2013, there are other chipmakers that are willing to fill that gap because they see an opportunity. "There is some scale with HSPA+ 84," he said.

However, Ray didn't rule out the possibility that T-Mobile will deploy LTE. "There is some potential opportunity for LTE if we decide to do that," he said, adding that the company could look at refarming some of its 1900 MHz spectrum.

Ray added that there is a lot more flexibility with the new multimode base stations as well as in the chipsets and baseband processors that made many different combinations of spectrum and technology possible.

When questioned about potential partnerships such as working with a wholesale network provider such as Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) or LightSquared, Ray said that the company's first goal is to review its existing spectrum assets and look at ways to repurpose and refarm spectrum. 

Earlier this week, T-Mobile announced it doubled the speed of its 4G network, offering HSPA+ 42 to 12 additional markets. The move brings its HSPA+ 42 network to 184 million POPs in 175 markets. In addition, T-Mobile expanded the reach of its nationwide HSPA+ 21 network to nine additional markets, now covering 217 markets across the country and reaching more than 200 million people.

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