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Tmobile repurposing EDGE Network for LTE


IamMrFamous07
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T-Mobile today revealed more details about the growth of its LTE network. According to T-Mobile, its LTE now covers 210 million people in 273 metro areas nationwide, with its HSPA+ network covering 230 million. T-Mobile said its LTE network will reach 230 million people by mid-year and 250 million by year's end. Right now, T-Mobile is deploying LTE on its AWS spectrum assets. The company today said that it will begin upgrading the remainder of its 2G/EDGE network with LTE 4G. T-Mobile expects about half of its 2G/EDGE network will be converted to LTE by the end of the year, with the rest following by mid-2015. Last, the company said it plans to begin deploying LTE in the 700MHz A Block spectrum as soon as the transaction with Verizon Wireless is complete. Verizon agreed to sell T-Mobile a wide swath of 700MHz late last year. T-Mobile didn't say when the transaction will close. T-Mobile claims to cover 96% of Americans with its network, be it EDGE, HSPA+, or LTE. Once these network upgrades are completed in 2015, T-Mobile will offer LTE in the 700MHz, 1700MHz, and 1900MHz bands.

 

 

http://www.phonescoop.com/articles/article.php?a=13777

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This is the best thing Tmo can do for itself to compete. Something I have been harping on them to do for years. This will take the last competitive thing Sprint has over Tmo, better rural data. At least to some extent.

 

Tmo will not be able to deploy its LTE 700 but in half the country. Whereas Sprint can deploy LTE 800 everywhere but the borders. This gets Tmo in a little closer striking range. I encourage Sprint to raise the bar further though by a strategic network expansion, starting with unique iDEN and WiMax Protection Sites and aggressively installing SMR 800 nationwide.

 

If Sprint can get its nationwide LTE 800 (B26) out nationwide before Tmo can even start deploying its select LTE 700, then Sprint will do just fine. It seems Sprint is finally starting to gather steam and Masa's influence is starting to be felt.

 

Robert via Samsung Note 8.0 using Tapatalk Pro

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Many of you may be overstating the extent of this announcement.  T-Mobile seems to be indicating that it will start refarming PCS for band 2 LTE 1900.  That could happen relatively easily in T-Mobile's current W-CDMA/LTE coverage islands.  I do not accept this as an express promise to convert all of its GSM only sites to LTE by mid 2015.  I will believe it when I see it.  If so, the one year time frame seems wishful thinking to run advanced backhaul to all of those rural sites.  Obtaining backhaul for Network Vision deployment has shown us that.  And it is not as if magic magenta has the backhaul fairy, who can use his magic wand to zap advanced backhaul to every site.

 

AJ

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Many of you may be overstating the extent of this announcement. T-Mobile seems to be indicating that it will start refarming PCS for band 2 LTE 1900. That could happen relatively easily in T-Mobile's current W-CDMA/LTE coverage islands. I do not accept this as an express promise to convert all of its GSM only sites to LTE by mid 2015. I will believe it when I see it. If so, the one year time frame seems wishful thinking to run advanced backhaul to all of those rural sites. Obtaining backhaul for Network Vision deployment has shown us that. And it is not as if magic magenta has the backhaul fairy, who can use his magic wand to zap advanced backhaul to every site.

 

AJ

I'm going to call T-Mobile's bluff on this. In areas that they have EDGE only coverage, getting backhaul deployed in a year will be next to impossible. Although I am surprised that they want to fully refarm their PCS network to LTE after they just moved HSPA onto it the past couple years. I smell something fishy.

 

 

Sent from Josh's iPhone 5S using Tapatalk 2

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Perhaps they ordered backhaul long before now??

 

I struggle to believe this kind of capital investment and increase in network costs can sustain profitability for the magenta without pricing adjustments. It also brings prior pondering about sprints organic growth into interest even more. Right or exaggerated, the more spin and believers tmobile gains, the harder a merger approval becomes

 

Sent from my SM-N900V using Tapatalk

 

 

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I may not fully understand the whole backhaul story, but if Verizon has advanced backhaul to their rural sites why can't other carriers also get the backhaul there.  Some of these rural areas have to be on the same tower as well.  I mean I understand Sprint is having a tough time getting backhaul to many of their towers (even here in the NYC market), but what can be done to speed this up?  It is definitely an interesting time in the wireless market.  Finally starting to see decent competition among the four major carriers.

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I may not fully understand the whole backhaul story, but if Verizon has advanced backhaul to their rural sites why can't other carriers also get the backhaul there.  Some of these rural areas have to be on the same tower as well.  I mean I understand Sprint is having a tough time getting backhaul to many of their towers (even here in the NYC market), but what can be done to speed this up?  It is definitely an interesting time in the wireless market.  Finally starting to see decent competition among the four major carriers.

 

VZW uses microwave backhaul for a number of their rural sites, with some pretty long chains in some areas.

 

Not saying that other carriers can't do the same thing. But not all VZW sites are fiber fed.

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If Magenta is using MW to get quick backhaul in place until Fiber can be run or if they previously ordered fiber and its in process, then they could easily make this type of claim and back it up.

 

Robert is 100% correct, Sprint needs to go after unique Nextel and Clear sites and upgrade them to full NV.  Sprint also needs to keep pushing SMR for voice, getting it fully deployed.

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I may not fully understand the whole backhaul story, but if Verizon has advanced backhaul to their rural sites why can't other carriers also get the backhaul there.  Some of these rural areas have to be on the same tower as well.  I mean I understand Sprint is having a tough time getting backhaul to many of their towers (even here in the NYC market), but what can be done to speed this up?  It is definitely an interesting time in the wireless market.  Finally starting to see decent competition among the four major carriers.

 

A lot of it comes down to who owns the 'local-ish' lines and whether microwaves will be used. Many rural sites use microwave dishes to get backhaul, the problem is who runs the backhaul at the origination point. I've seen Comcast and Verizon do some dirty things here in DC (Comcast loves to accidentally pull competitor's cables) and it wouldn't surprise me if it happens in other business units....

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Many of you may be overstating the extent of this announcement.  T-Mobile seems to be indicating that it will start refarming PCS for band 2 LTE 1900.  That could happen relatively easily in T-Mobile's current W-CDMA/LTE coverage islands.  I do not accept this as an express promise to convert all of its GSM only sites to LTE by mid 2015.  I will believe it when I see it.  If so, the one year time frame seems wishful thinking to run advanced backhaul to all of those rural sites.  Obtaining backhaul for Network Vision deployment has shown us that.  And it is not as if magic magenta has the backhaul fairy, who can use his magic wand to zap advanced backhaul to every site.

 

AJ

 

That's my assessment of the situation as well. My guess is that 5x5 or 10x10 of LTE will show up, spectrum permitting (TMo will have to leave a bit of spectrum for GSM/GPRS for awhile yet, even if they shut down EDGE), in areas that already have H+ and/or LTE in one of their other bands. This will result in a modest coverage increase for LTE in areas that don't have 700A, and a bit more capacity near the cell center for areas that do have 700A.

 

But my bet is that T-Mobile won't be upgrading EDGE or GPRS only towers to LTE (or even H+) nearly as quickly as the PR spin-masters would have you think. And yes, GPRS-only sites are still a painful reality. I swapped my TMo SIM into my Nexus 5 on Monday and got full bars of GPRS in Monahans, TX. There was a H+ site up the road a bit but it felt like my phone was having serious problems getting RF to traverse enough of the desert to get a reliable data connection. In this case, Sprint wasn't much better...NV equipment broadcasting a congested 3G signal...but T-Mobile data was nearly unusable.

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In my Monahans, TX example, T-Mobile would either need to buy backhaul from AT&T in town or run a two or three hop microwave chain to Midland, where more bandwidth providers are available. Maybe they'll do it. I'm doubtful.

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About time, T-Mobile been the lesser to all the other wireless providers around here.  EDGE is the only technology they have used here for quite a while without any upgrades, this will be welcomed to T-Mobile subscribers around here.

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I knew this announcement was coming...if anything I hope Sprint over delievers their deployment for 800/2600.

 

Mass Son just needs to leave tmobile alone and focus on Sprint.

 

With tmobile converting their edge towers...does that mean their network will be better than sprints?

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<snip...>

 

Although I am surprised that they want to fully refarm their PCS network to LTE after they just moved HSPA onto it the past couple years. I smell something fishy.

 

From what I gathered during T-Mobile's earnings call and presentation (I could be mistaken), they aren't refarming their ENTIRE PCS network to LTE, but only adding PCS LTE where AWS LTE is not feasible due to spectrum constraints (like Cincinnati) or the inability to repurpose Metro spectrum for contiguity. Currently, in a lot of places where there is AWS LTE (or AWS HSPA+42), there is also PCS HSPA+21 and E. It is very easy to reduce E from 10 or 20 MHz to 5 MHz and plop in a PCS LTE carrier in place of a AWS LTE.

 

I think the end goal is AWS LTE with PCS HSPA+42, PCS LTE with AWS HSPA+42 (select markets), and 700 LTE (where they don't have interference issues). 

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With tmobile converting their edge towers...does that mean their network will be better than sprints?

 

Have you actually read the thread that you started?  Or are you just accepting at face value T-Mobile press boilerplate like this?

 

http://newsroom.t-mobile.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=251624&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1908666&highlight=%27%20target=

 

Several of the people whom I hope you respect at S4GRU are calling shenanigans on this T-Mobile announcement.  It will not, cannot happen across the entire rural footprint like T-Mobile suggests it will.  If it does, then Sprint is in deep "nifty shit."  But we do not believe that.

 

AJ

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From what I gathered during T-Mobile's earnings call and presentation (I could be mistaken), they aren't refarming their ENTIRE PCS network to LTE, but only adding PCS LTE where AWS LTE is not feasible due to spectrum constraints (like Cincinnati)...

 

Cincinnati is a great point.  In AWS, T-Mobile has no path to LTE.  Because of spectrum constraints, it is stuck at just one measly AWS W-CDMA carrier.  But T-Mobile does hold a total of 30 MHz of PCS spectrum in the market -- 20 MHz of which is contiguous.  So, T-Mobile could deploy up to a 10 MHz FDD carrier in band 2 LTE 1900 in Cincinnati.

 

AJ

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Folks...getting backhaul to rural areas is often easier.  Fiber runs along most major highways close to sites.  Getting fiber to highway and rural sites is typically easier than urban areas.  And the ones that are more difficult can be bridged with microwave.

 

If Tmo spends the money and effort, they could quite handily equip all their rural sites with upgraded backhaul before the end of 2014.  Then it could spend 2015 upgrading them with their new LTE 700 spectrum, and at least AWS LTE (B4) in the places where they cannot yet do LTE 700 A Block (half the country).

 

We will see how much they actually accomplish this year.  I'm with AJ...don't overread too much into this and the Tmo spin machine.  Sprint could be done with their LTE 1900 and LTE 800 network wide by the end of 2014 before Tmo really gets any wind at their back.  However, Masa needs to make sure of it.  Tmo cannot be allowed to get ahead on this one too starting so late.

 

By the end of 2014, Sprint needs to do the following:

  • Complete upgraded backhaul to every Sprint site
  • Get LTE 1900 and LTE 800 complete
  • Get B41 (LTE 2600/Spark) at all Clearwire sites
  • Get B41 well covering non Clearwire Top 100 markets
  • Get B41 deployed on every NV B25 site that is overcapacity (no matter which market)
  • Get B25 2nd carrier installed everywhere where overcapacity and spectrum availability allows (including minor refarming if necessary)

They should also consider:

  • Add all iDEN sites that would add new coverage to include a full NV upgrade with CDMA/LTE
  • Convert all WiMax Protection Sites that would add new coverage to include a full NV upgrade with CDMA/LTE
  • Convert all Clearwire Expedience Sites that would add new coverage to include a full NV upgrade with CDMA/LTE
  • Convert the few hundred WiMax sites in urban areas that would fill in/add coverage to include a full NV upgrade with CDMA/other bands of LTE

If they need to bring in another 1,000 SoftBank employees from Japan to run this for Sprint, then so be it!  Time to get on with the show.  Masa cannot wait to compete with Tmo after the Feds refuse a buy out.  They need to plan as if there is an all out battle for 3rd place.  Because there is.  Sprint will lose its 3rd place to Tmo if they don't focus on network.  Network quality/coverage is now the differentiator between providers.  The price difference between Tmo, Sprint and AT&T are now not very significant for most consumers.

 

Robert

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The mid-2015 timeframe seems too good to be true, for a true 100% completion. But it doesn't seem completely farfetched to get "most" noticeable EDGE sites upgraded (for various definitions of "most").

 

A good chunk of T-Mobile's EDGE sites aren't really "rural", they are in places like small-to-mid-size-cities with 30k to 200k populations, or busy interstate freeways. Lots of providers already spent a lot of time and energy getting backhaul into these sites directly, for AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint years ago. If it's not already wired, backhaul is often near them for broadband providers like Comcast / Charter / Cox / ect. These markets aren't terribly difficult to get backhaul too, because they're near major cities.

 

It wouldn't surprise me if T-Mobile can get new backhaul in those areas, in less time than other carriers, by simply waiting until now to sign the contracts for it. Since fiber is already installed and lit for everyone else, they might even get better pricing for it.

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Yep back haul will stop them in their tracks for a large part of their EDGE network. Sprint should start possible expansion sites. Use temporary MW backhaul until a line fed backhaul is in place. But even if T-Mobile can't make their goal, people will just make excuses. Some called sprint people "blaming" backhaul for the issues, "sprint apologist" well let's see what they have to see when they get to see the real backhaul issues.

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Yep back haul will stop them in their tracks for a large part of their EDGE network. Sprint should start possible expansion sites. Use temporary MW backhaul until a line fed backhaul is in place. But even if T-Mobile can't make their goal, people will just make excuses. Some called sprint people "blaming" backhaul for the issues, "sprint apologist" well let's see what they have to see when they get to see the real backhaul issues.

 

I think it can be done.  Sprint could have done it too, and still can.  It depends on how much you're willing to spend, how much man power you are willing to put on it, and how creative you can be with alternatives when things go awry.

 

Robert

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The mid-2015 timeframe seems too good to be true, for a true 100% completion. But it doesn't seem completely farfetched to get "most" noticeable EDGE sites upgraded (for various definitions of "most").

 

A good chunk of T-Mobile's EDGE sites aren't really "rural", they are in places like small-to-mid-size-cities with 30k to 200k populations, or busy interstate freeways. Lots of providers already spent a lot of time and energy getting backhaul into these sites directly, for AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint years ago. If it's not already wired, backhaul is often near them for broadband providers like Comcast / Charter / Cox / ect. These markets aren't terribly difficult to get backhaul too, because they're near major cities.

 

It wouldn't surprise me if T-Mobile can get new backhaul in those areas, in less time than other carriers, by simply waiting until now to sign the contracts for it. Since fiber is already installed and lit for everyone else, they might even get better pricing for it.

Yep I get edge in a 100k+ city. In the most dense parts of town too. Their current LTE has the worst distance I've seen. More than a mile out it goes to fringe HSPA+ lol. But I never got why 100k cities still have Edge even after LTE and WCDMA upgrades.
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