For Ericsson markets t-mobile uses what is known as AIR antenna units which have the radio unit integrated with the antenna. This type of setup significantly reduces signal loss from the radio to the antenna since they're both practically next to each other and not sepearated by coax jumper cables like that of a remote radio unit.
Basic Ericsson AIR21 setup
(Note typically there are 2 Ericsson AIR per sector)
Ericsson AIR21 + Band 12 700 mhz Equipment
Note the addition of a new low band 700 mhz capable antenna + Ericsson RRUS11 B12 (remote radio units) in addition to new TMA (tower mounted amplifiers) connected to the AIR antenna. The new Ericsson RRUS11 B12 + Antenna addition is for tmobiles band 12 700mhz (L700) deployment.
Credit for the photographs belong to whoever took it. You know who you are!
This is the Samsung Outdoor Pico eNB small cell for LTE 1900 that will be deployed by Sprint. Outdoor small cells are utilized to providie additional capacity and coverage mainly in areas where there is a high population density such as major malls, major streets with lot of busineses, train stations, airports, and the like.
Small cells are mostly PnP where you just plug everything in and fire it up and it will auto configure itself by downloading parameters and additional information from the network. Utilizing the latest advances in small cell technology, these pico cells would also over time optimize itself based on feedback from UE and neighboring small cells and macro cells.
In addition to building towers, they will be buying sites from Sprint and it sounds like other companies as well. Acquisitions are the main push initially it sounds like, construction coming later. If Softbank remains connected with Sprint, this seems like a good thing to me.
I think they would basically buy Sprint's owned tower locations, and Sprint would lease them back at some rate. The lease could be well below market value. This would give Sprint a cash infusion without SoftBank directly investing and triggering them to buy the remaining shares
I'm not sure how many locations Sprint owns. Or perhaps they'll just take over Sprint's lease and then sublet it back to Sprint at a discount.