On paper, T-Mobile may be one of the fastest growing mobile carriers in the U.S. It has taken few bold steps last year to poach subscribers from rival carriers. T-Mobile also spent the better part of 2013 improving its nationwide LTE network. To commemorate the first anniversary of the launch of its 4G LTE network, the carrier has promised that it is going to upgrade the existing 2G/EDGE network to 4G LTE.
T-Mobile claims that 50 percent of the upgrade work will be completed in this year. The carrier expects that this entire upgrade program will be “substantially complete” by mid-2015. Moreover, T-Mobile has also charted plans to deploy 4G LTE on the 700MHz A-block wireless spectrum that it has acquired from Verizon. If the upgrade work gets completed on time, and provided that reception issues are eliminated, then this upgrade would definitely address a major customer pain point. T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network suffers from reception issues particularly outside of densely populated areas, subscribers are then stuck with 2G/EDGE speeds.
Making its 4G LTE network accessible in additional markets while improving reception in existing markets will ensure growth for the carrier. In the end it all boils down to the user experience, if the upgrade doesn’t do much to expand coverage, subscribers may not notice any differences at all. Obviously this upgrade will cost T-Mobile, and Sprint may seek to benefit from it.
The third largest U.S. carrier and its parent company, Softbank, are trying to gather support for a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile. Yesterday in an interview Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son branded U.S. mobile internet as “horrible,” even calling Sprint’s mobile internet horrible. He makes a compelling case for the merger. Son believes that having T-Mobile under its belt would give Sprint the scalability it needs to improve network technology across the country and enhance mobile internet. A dollar figure hasn’t been put on the bid as yet as there are already rising concerns that federal regulators may not be open to the idea of consolidation in the market.