Sensing a huge opportunity to grow its business-to-business penetration, T-Mobile USA is going to add 1,000 more B2B sales people while leveraging its network capabilities, including its upgrade to LTE next year.

T-Mobile has an overall 12 percent market share in the United States but reaches only 5 percent of the $60 billion B2B market. Matt Millen, vice president of Small and Medium Business Sales, said in an interview at CTIA Wireless 2012 the carrier has launched an aggressive strategy to grab a bigger share.

This year is going to be a “restart” of T-Mobile’s B2B strategy since the failure of its merger with AT&T last year, Millen said. He said the operator is committing resources to this “reinvigorating” process, including the addition of new sales people during the next 18 months and a $4 billion network upgrade. The latter includes the installation of LTE Release 10 equipment at 37,000 cell sites nationwide.

T-Mobile announced at the show it has chosen Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks as its lead network upgrade vendors. The carrier said it expects to be the first in North America to broadly deploy antenna-integrated radios, which is expected to lead to accelerated deployment and reduced site loading.

The carrier also is refarming its spectrum, which includes the use of AWS spectrum it acquired from AT&T as part of the merger breakup. T-Mobile said it will use the new spectrum to launch LTE in 75 percent of the top 25 markets by the end of 2013.

Marc Rohleder, director of sales engineering for T-Mobile’s B2B sector, said the LTE upgrade on AWS spectrum will provide economies of scale as well as international roaming benefits. But he said T-Mobile will continue to emphasize the benefits for businesses from its current HSPA+ network.

Rohleder pointed to a study issued by Nielsen that ranked T-Mobile as either first or second in network quality among U.S. operators in 85 percent of the markets. “We have a network today that provides our customer needs,” he said.

T-Mobile markets its HSPA+ network as 4G, a designation some quibble with but Rohleder and Millen said the “real world” experience of the operator’s customers is what is important. They said their network speeds are comparable with LTE and provide the data rates and experience that customers want.

“We have the national footprint and the speeds that our customers need in most major markets,” Rohleder said.

In addition, Rohleder said T-Mobile also offers voice and data using Wi-Fi where those access points are available, so customers can choose that option. That is particularly beneficial internationally since roaming charges don’t apply with Wi-Fi, he said.

T-Mobile also has relaunched its small business rate plans, including a plan for a business that needs as few as one line. The new plans also include an international option that leverages T-Mobile’s ownership by Deutsche Telecom, providing up to an 87 percent discount on international calls, Rohleder said.

To coincide with national small business week, T-Mobile also announced a sweepstakes that current and prospective business customers can enter online or through retail outlets. The sweepstakes, which end June 10, will provide a “mobile makeover” for national and regional winners. 

Millen said T-Mobile will continue to seek new services and products for business customers in addition to those it has launched recently. Those include partnerships with Good Technologies and iPass. The carrier also offers a mobile point-of-service payment product with a credit card reader from Square.

“One of the things we’ll do is listen to the marketplace and make determinations on solutions we have and through partners,” Millen said. “We will take full care of our business customer needs.”