T-Mobile's Ray to CCA members: 'We have capacity'

LAS VEGAS—T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) has extra LTE capacity on its network and is inviting members of the Competitive Carriers Association to partner with it if they want to expand their LTE footprint. "Don't forget T-Mobile. We have a huge network out there," said T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray. "We have capacity."

Ray, who was speaking at the 2013 CCA conference here, told members that his company's network can carry additional traffic and that its LTE Release 10 network might be appealing for some type of partnership. In an interview after his speech to the CCA, Ray elaborated, saying that smaller operators could roam on T-Mobile's LTE network outside their existing footprint.  

This call for LTE roaming partnerships is similar to an announcement Sprint (NYSE:S) made at the CCA show last April when CEO Dan Hesse said that Sprint wanted to be the preferred roaming partner for smaller operators. At that show, Sprint said it was working with regional operator C Spire Wireless to enable LTE roaming across multiple spectrum bands.

Ray noted that T-Mobile is in the process of deploying LTE throughout its markets and is on track to cover 200 million POPs with LTE by year-end. He also said that with the company's current spectrum portfolio, T-Mobile is deploying LTE in 10x10 MHz LTE bands now and will be able to migrate to 20x20 MHz LTE in 90 percent of the top 25 markets sometime in 2014.

Ray also implored CCA members to be "dangerously disruptive" as T-Mobile has been in the market with its un-carrier strategy that includes removing handset subsidies from service plans and offering customers the option of upgrading their handsets two times per year.

Specifically, Ray encouraged CCA operators to support the company's incentive auction band plan, which it outlined to the FCC in a letter earlier this week. That plan, which was jointly developed with Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), calls for a single 3PP band class that will provide interoperability across paired blocks of spectrum in the 600 MHz band.  "Let's use the best engineering we can as we map out the band plan," Ray said. "Do not squander the most valuable spectrum we may see for years."

Ray also touted T-Mobile and other smaller operators push for auction rules that would cap the amount of spectrum AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon can acquire in the 600 MHz auction. The goal is to ensure that smaller carriers can get some of the spectrum. AT&T and Verizon have argued that such rules would amount to picking winners and losers in the auction.

Ray said that he's tired of the rhetoric regarding sub-1 GHz spectrum not being better than spectrum in higher bands.  "I hate it when I heard that this 1-Gig stuff is not important," Ray said. "This is the laws of physics. It goes further, it penetrates buildings. I know. I don't have it."

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