T-Mobile to launch wider, 2x10 MHz channels for LTE by year-end

T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) will expand the spectrum channels it is using for LTE service to 2x10 MHz in the vast majority of the major markets across the United States by year-end, the company said.

"Nationwide, we plan to deploy 10+10 MHz of LTE in 90 percent of the top 25 markets by the end of the year," a company spokesperson told LightReading. The carrier has been testing that spectrum configuration in a few areas of New York City, which is one of the markets that will get the wider channels by the end of 2013. Wider spectrum channels enable faster downlink speeds.

T-Mobile's LTE network now covers 157 million POPs in 116 markets, and the company expects to cover 200 million POPs with LTE by year-end. As GigaOM recently noted, many of T-Mobile's initial LTE markets used only 10 MHz of spectrum, as Sprint (NYSE:S) does with its current LTE deployment, while about half of T-Mobile's coverage uses a full 20 MHz of spectrum, as Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) does with its LTE network and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) does in most markets.

However, T-Mobile's LTE network is in a constant state of flux, as the company continues to upgrade its network via vendors Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Nokia Siemens Networks. T-Mobile is refarming its AWS spectrum for LTE service and the vast majority of its PCS spectrum for HSPA+ service. T-Mobile is also busy integrating MetroPCS' AWS spectrum into its LTE network, which is providing more bandwidth and spectrum depth.

A major impetus for T-Mobile's move toward wider LTE spectrum channels was its acquisition of MetroPCS' spectrum. T-Mobile has repeatedly said the transaction will allow it to deploy 2x20 MHz LTE in 90 percent of the top 25 U.S. markets using MetroPCS' spectrum in 2014 and beyond, which will give its network even faster speeds than what it hopes to achieve by year-end. The combined T-Mobile and MetroPCS networks have 76 MHz of total spectrum in the top 25 major metro areas.

Verizon now covers 301 million POPs with LTE. By the end of the year, AT&T Mobility plans to cover 270 million POPs with LTE and Sprint plans to cover at least 200 million POPs with LTE. Sprint has said it will start deploying LTE on its refarmed 800 MHz spectrum late this year and also plans to use Clearwire's 2.5 GHz spectrum in a nationwide LTE deployment, which will substantially increase its own network capacity.

For more:
- see this LightReading article

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