T-Mobile USA announced today plans to begin rollout of a 4G LTE network by 2013. The wireless carrier, America’s fourth largest, hopes the addition of “affordable” LTE connectivity, as well as expansion of its fast HSPA+ network, can help stop customers from fleeing to other networks.
“We want to be known for delivering the best value in wireless because of the advanced technology we deliver at an affordable price,” said Philipp Humm CEO and President of T-Mobile USA, in a statement. “Over the next two years, we’re prioritizing and investing in initiatives designed to get T-Mobile back to growth in the years ahead — beginning with the transformation of our network.”
To achieve this goal, T-Mobile will spend $4 billion to install new equipment at 37,000 cell sites. It will also use the new wireless spectrum band awarded to the company as a result of the failed merger with AT&T to help bolster its network capabilities, as long as the Federal Communications Commission approves the move.
In addition, T-Mobile says it will spend $1.4 billion to expand its HSPA+ network. It will also reduce the amount of 1900 MHz PCS spectrum being used for 2G service, in order to improve its HSPA+ offerings. The company expects to offer “4G” service (either HSPA+ or LTE) across the top 50 markets in the US by next year.
News of the network upgrade follow a dismal fourth quarter for T-Mobile. During the last three months of 2011, more than 802,000 customers dropped the company, a massive jump from the 251,000 who left during the same period the year before. T-Mobile executives attribute the mass exodus of customers to the fact that of the top-four wireless providers in the US, T-Mobile is the only one that does not offer Apple’s wildly popular iPhone.
In a conference call, T-Mobile’s chief technology office Neville Ray said the company would offer 10 LTE-enabled devices in 2013, as well as 4G support for the iPhone, reports SlashGear. Ray did not clarify whether he meant the HSPA+ connectivity of the iPhone 4S, or an upcoming LTE iPhone.
At present, Verizon has the nation’s largest an fastest LTE network. AT&T has rolled out LTE to about two dozen markets. And Sprint says it will release its first LTE device in the middle of this year.