Speaking in two separate interviews, T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer dropped some more hints about T-Mobile’s future LTE rollouts and future integration plans with MetroPCS. One worthy takeaway from the CNET interview is Ray’s claim that T-Mobile’s network will “one-up” both AT&T and Verizon Wireless when it rolls out its own LTE network next year.
“LTE today is good, but LTE tomorrow can be great,” Ray said in an interview with CNET today. “That’s the opportunity we hope to secure and differentiate ourselves with.”
The key to T-Mobile’s success will lie partly in the combined spectrum it will acquire once a merger with MetroPCS is finalized sometime next year. Ray emphasized points made earlier in T-Mobile’s discussions on the merger that the extra capacity will allow for faster speeds, more capacity to handle traffic and an overall increase in service.
Ray believes that with MetroPCS spectrum, T-Mobile’s capacity will effectively double and offer download and upload speeds that surpass the competition. T-Mobile plans to reach 200 million people with LTE by the end of 2013, with the doubling of capacity to start in 2014 with the completion of the roll-out in 2015.
“This deal puts us in a position to jump ahead,” Ray said. “It’ll be in a position that will be tough to match.”
T-Mobile’s current plan is to shut down the MetroPCS CDMA network by 2015, keeping 6,000 antenna systems (1,000 total antennas) to use for improving coverage inside buildings and converting those systems to work with both HSPA+ and LTE.
On a separate but related note, Ray said in a separate interview with GigaOM that T-Mobile will support the Voice-over-LTE services MetroPCS currently has, but it may take another approach to voice traffic over 4G networks later on.
“VoLTE will come,” Ray said, but he pointed out it’s a relatively unproven technology that will take several years to mature into a commercially viable service. “We will certainly support the VoLTE services that MetroPCS has today,” he said. “But is that the VoLTE we want to populate the new network with? TBD.”
Ray says that T-Mobile’s VoLTE decision will be determined by both demand and logistics, stating that T-Mobile is in less of a rush to make the move than MetroPCS due to more breathing room spectrum wise.
Ray did leave the door open for T-Mobile to jump into VoLTE as soon as the merger closes, arguing that would be dependent on the current state of VoLTE technology. The only question is whether Ray will see a need for T-Mobile to launch a large-scale VoLTE service soon after the merger closes, or if T-Mobile can slowly move their network onto that path.