T-MobileUS to use unlicensed 5GHz spectrum to help boost network

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While T-MobileUS has been working hard with its rapidly growing subscriber base, the company has never really been widely known to have the strongest network coverage. Though these past couple years they’ve been on a mission to change that. As per the failed acquisition, AT&T gave them $1 billion worth of band IV (AWS) spectrum and $3 billion to help upgrade their network. They’ve also been merging the network from wholly-owned MetroPCS, re-purposing existing spectrum to increase their 4G footprint, as well as building out some newly purchased spectrum from Verizon. Of course, all of this isn’t cheap and T-Mobile has been spent billions of dollars in order to improve its network quality. Well, it turns out they have found a cheaper way to boost their network.

WiFi

At Mobile World Congress last week, T-Mobile announced that it will tap into a well of unlicensed 5GHz spectrum, which is usually reserved for Wi-Fi networks. This will help boost their current LTE coverage, giving them near Wi-Fi speeds, and much quicker than their already speedy network rollout. Since the spectrum is unlicensed, reportedly anyone can use it, so it makes sense that T-Mobile would look into alternative ways to acquire more network capacity, since it is likely that the larger companies will dominate in next year’s spectrum auction.

The move also makes sense financially, as T-Mobile spent a good portion of the year bleeding profits with its UnCarrier initiatives. Parent company Deutsche Telekom has expressed that T-MobileUS can’t afford to keep up with they way it’s operating, at least without being acquired or merging with another company. But if any of us know John Legere, it’s unlikely that they’re going to slow down. The UnCarrier already has a new event scheduled for the 18th of this month, and this is just after the company’s return to profitability last quarter.

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Of course there are some hurdles that T-Mobile will have to overcome, such as compatibility between LTE and Wi-Fi. T-Mobile will use technology from Alcatel-Lucent to make the connections possible, but there are still plenty of kinks to workout before the company can start using the spectrum, which it expects to start utilizing sometime next year. Until then, they’re currently the only US carrier to offer W-Fi Calling, a feature that lets existing Wi-Fi connections act as cell towers, which is another way to (sort of) expand the network without actually using spectrum. It’s a neat little feature that can only help bring customers over to the steadily growing network.

Source: The Motley Fool

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