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T-Mobile Sets the Record Straight on MetroPCS Merger

Thu, 11/01/2012 - 6:01am
Maisie Ramsay

CHICAGO - T-Mobile USA CTO Neville Ray joined 4G World by video link on Wednesday to set the record straight on his company’s pending merger with MetroPCS.

“Technology is not an obstacle,” Ray said. 

Ray’s presentation covered a number of key points about the transaction, which will make T-Mobile a stronger fourth-place competitor with a combined customer base of 42.5 million and substantially increase the amount of spectrum it has for LTE.

T-Mobile and MetroPCS’ disparate technologies were one of the issues Ray addressed. Instead of trying to integrate MetroPCS’ legacy CDMA network with T-Mobile’s GSM service, the operator is going to simply migrate MetroPCS customers.

The task will be made easier because 60 percent of MetroPCS customers upgrade their devices every year. T-Mobile expects to have all the subscribers moved over by the second half of 2015. 

Furthermore, MetroPCS’ current LTE customers will be able to use T-Mobile’s forthcoming LTE network on the same handsets they have now. T-Mobile also plans to offer MetroPCS customers dual-mode HSPA/LTE devices immediately after the close of the deal that use both of the companies’ LTE networks but only T-Mobile’s 3G service, Ray said.

Ray highlighted the spectrum advantages of the deal, pointing out that it will leave T-Mobile with 20x20 MHz channels in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia, Detroit, Boston, San Francisco, Last Vegas, Sacramento, Calif. and Tampa and Orlando, Fla. On average, the companies combined spectrum holdings will hit 76 MHz in its top 25 markets.

T-Mobile will launch LTE with 10x10 MHz channels next year, then move to the wider pipe once the deal closes. The operator is upgrading two-thirds of its 52,000 base stations with LTE, and expects to have much of the work done next year. The network is slated to cover 200 million people by the end of 2013.

“We end up with a much stronger combined network,” Ray said.  “Our spectrum position is significantly increased and enhanced.”

T-Mobile is refarming its 1900 MHz spectrum, currently used for its 2G network, to support its HSPA service. The work is “95 percent complete” and HSPA on 1900 MHz has already been launched in Las Vegas and Kansas City.

Ray said he had planned to announce the new 1900 MHz HSPA markets today, but was forced to delay the news because of Hurricane Sandy. However, T-Mobile has a “series of major launches” scheduled before the end of this year, he said.

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