T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) is joining the Competitive Carriers Association's LTE data roaming hub, giving small and rural carriers another partner to work with as they seek to expand their network coverage.
Sprint (NYSE: S) has been the main player in the hub, which allows CCA members to connect to the hub to roam onto the networks of all of the players in the hub. The data roaming hub, which is powered by Transaction Network Services, serves as a clearinghouse for participating members to create reciprocal roaming agreements. CCA also noted that the hub provides a single point of international interconnection for LTE and next-generation data services.
The hub was launched in March 2013 and Sprint joined in March 2014. T-Mobile has been part of the steering committee for the roaming hub but had not previously allowed CCA members to connect to its network via the hub. According to CCA, there are more than a dozen participating rural and regional carriers in the hub.
T-Mobile's LTE network covers 290 million POPs, and primarily uses the 700 MHz A Block, which some smaller carriers like U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM) and C Spire Wireless also support, as well as the 1700 MHZ AWS-1 band and the 1900 MHz PCS band. Sprint's LTE network covers 280 million POPs at last count, and uses the 800 MHz, 1900 MHz and 2.5 GHz bands.
Smaller carriers will now be able to access T-Mobile's LTE network for roaming through the hub and T-Mobile will be able to expand roaming partnerships and extend its footprint with members whose network technologies had previously been incompatible.
T-Mobile has leased its spectrum to other carriers in an effort to expand its LTE network, though it's unclear how extensive those efforts have been. T-Mobile has LTE roaming agreements withs its affiliate iWireless as well as General Communication (GCI) in Alaska.
"I am delighted that T-Mobile has committed to working alongside many of CCA's other carrier members to ensure a pathway to robust nationwide 4G LTE coverage," CCA President Steve Berry said in a statement. "The Data Services Hub is quickly becoming a phenomenal resource that provides invaluable benefits to every CCA member, especially those operating in rural and regional areas. I am extremely pleased that T-Mobile has taken a leadership position in ensuring the future of a competitive mobile ecosystem, and its decision is proof-positive that the idea of a one-to-many connection will bring enormous benefits to all competitive carriers."
Dirk Mosa, T-Mobile's senior vice president for corporate development and roaming, said the hub "enables better collaboration with smaller carriers which will ultimately help T-Mobile extend our voice and data roaming capabilities even further."
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