Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) is upgrading MetroPCS' (NYSE:PCS) LTE network with enhanced capabilities to support services such as Voice over LTE and Rich Communication Services. The news comes as MetroPCS works toward completing its planned merger with T-Mobile USA.
Ericsson, which is already a major vendor for MetroPCS' LTE network, said it will help upgrade the flat-rate player's Evolved Packet Core network. Ericsson will serve as the project's prime integrator with responsibility for design, installation and commissioning, and post-launch customer support.
The project includes the installation of Ericsson's SSR 8000 family of Smart Service Routers, which Ericsson describes as a highly scalable IP service-delivery platform that supports LTE applications and network stability. Ericsson also said it will deploy its Mobility Management Entity to handle growing data traffic as well as a new OSS system to support more real-time operations and reduce network power consumption.
Ericsson spokesman Jimmy Duvall told FierceWireless that the company's new deal with MetroPCS is "enhancing what we were already doing" for MetroPCS in its LTE network. MetroPCS recently said it counts 3 million LTE subscribers, or roughly 35 percent of its total customer base. MetroPCS operates its LTE network in 14 core markets, and, according to a report last month from OpenSignal, MetroPCS' LTE network was the slowest of all U.S. carriers in terms of average downlink speed, averaging around 1.2 Mbps.
Along with Nokia Siemens Networks, Ericsson is also one of the main vendors for T-Mobile's LTE network and network modernization, which involves installing remote radio heads and reframing the carrier's 1900 MHz PCS spectrum to support HSPA+ services.
Duvall said that right now Ericsson is still treating MetroPCS and T-Mobile as separate companies since their merger is not yet finalized. However, he said that the two carriers' networks should integrate smoothly if the transaction goes through.
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