T-Mobile USA has chosen Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) to deliver its $4bn (£2.4bn) 4G network evolution plan, including network modernization and deployment of long term evolution (LTE) service in 2013.
As part of the agreements announced yesterday (7 May 2012) Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks will provide and install state of the art, Release 10 capable equipment at 37,000 cell sites across T-Mobile’s 4G network, increasing signal quality and enhancing performance beginning in 2012.
T-Mobile also expects to be the first carrier in North America to broadly deploy antenna integrated radios, enabling accelerated deployment and reduced site loading.
The deal means that Ericsson now has LTE contracts with all four of the USA’s top mobile operators. AT&T and Verizon are using Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, while Sprint is employing Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent and Samsung. The win is a relief for NSN, as it was struggling to gain a foothold with LTE in the US market.
Daryl Schoolar, analyst with Ovum commented: 'The network deal is particularly good news for NSN, which has struggled to win a major LTE deal. NSN was already the incumbent base station vendor for T-Mobile’s HSPA network, so the deal is more of a continuation. It will also justify NSN’s decision to focus on North America, Japan, and South Korea as growth regions for its turnaround. NSN will supply its high-end base station – the Flexi 10 – opening up the deployment to support a C-RAN configuration.'
AWS spectrum to be used for 4G
T-Mobile will be partially rolling out its LTE service on its AWS spectrum holdings. It only recently secured the AWS spectrum licenses from AT&T, which were agreed to as part of the breakup of the proposed merger between the two companies. This new spectrum, in addition to the refarming effort, enables the launch of LTE in AWS spectrum and up to 20MHz of LTE in 75% of the top 25 markets.
‘We’re making great progress on our four billion dollar 4G network transformation,’ said Neville Ray, chief technology officer, T-Mobile USA. ‘With these partners on board and the AT&T AWS spectrum secured, we’re on track to enhance our 4G experience this year and deliver nationwide LTE in 2013.’
The company’s timing for LTE allows T-Mobile to take advantage of the latest and most advanced LTE technology infrastructure, improving the overall capacity and performance of its 4G network, while optimizing the company’s spectrum resources. T-Mobile will also apply deep LTE technology experience gained from its parent, Deutsche Telekom, a recognized global leader in LTE development and standardization.
T-Mobile USA will be the first carrier in North America to deploy Ericsson's AIR technology, enabling the carrier to improve existing coverage and quickly launch LTE. T-Mobile USA selected the AIR solution due to the enhanced radio performance and ease of deployment. Ericsson will install the radio, tower and switch room equipment, as well as provide consulting and systems integration and rollout services. Ericsson will also provide turnkey services in the areas of installation, commissioning, integration and migration.
Ericsson's AIR solution is designed to blend into the environment and closely resemble a traditional antenna although it has built-in active radio units. The benefits include simplified site acquisition and reduction of energy consumption by up to 40-45% at typical load, compared to alternative site solutions using standard base stations combined with passive antennas.
This new deal continues Ericsson's long-standing relationship with T-Mobile USA. In 2006, Ericsson expanded its existing network contract with T-Mobile USA to include a nationwide 3G network. In 2010, Ericsson further enhanced T-Mobile USA's network with the deployment of HSPA+ 21 technology, and again in 2011 with HSPA+ 42 technology.
Nokia Siemens Networks will provide T-Mobile with its Evolved Packet Core platform, including Flexi NS (Network Server) and Flexi NG (Network Gateway). The company will also provide for the LTE deployment its Single RAN Advanced platform based on its Flexi Multiradio 10 Base Station. Part of Nokia Siemens Networks’ award-winning Flexi base station portfolio, the Flexi Multiradio 10 is acclaimed for its outstanding capacity, allowing operators to deliver up to 10 times more data traffic.
T-Mobile has already deployed Nokia Siemens Networks’ subscriber data management solution and this will be enhanced to support a more powerful customer experience with LTE. In addition, Nokia Siemens Networks will deliver a range of services, including network planning and optimization, network implementation and support for the modernization and LTE deployment.
The deployment will also include Nokia Siemens Networks’ NetAct multi-technology Network Management System. This will enable a consolidated and effective end-to-end solution to manage and optimize T-Mobile’s network and evolved packet core from a single platform. In addition, both the Nokia Siemens Networks SON (self-organizing network) and a separate, dedicated multi-vendor Performance Manager will be delivered.
4G HSPA+ services in 1900MHz band
As part of the company’s network modernization effort, T-Mobile also plans to launch 4G HSPA+ service in the 1900MHz band in a large number of markets by the end of the year. Network modernization trials have shown up to a 33% increase in HSPA+ data speeds, as well as improved in-building coverage. Rolling out 4G HSPA+ services in the 1900MHz band will also provide customers with the ability to use a broader range of devices, including the iPhone, on T-Mobile’s 4G network.
T-Mobile also announced that its nationwide HSPA+ network has expanded to deliver a competitive 4G experience to well over 220 million people in 229 markets. In addition to an expanding 4G footprint, the 4G experience T-Mobile provides is pervasive among its customer base.
‘In contrast to our competitors, nearly half of T-Mobile’s postpaid smartphone customers are using a 4G device,’ said Ray. ‘Not only are we delivering a fast 4G experience to a higher percentage of our customers, we’re also making it more affordable to step up to 4G. Whether you’re purchasing one of our latest 4G superphones – or bringing your own device, you can get better value with T-Mobile.’