T-Mobile’s plan to rollout LTE-Advanced features will begin before the end of 2013 according to comments from Dave Mayo, senior VP of technology, strategy, finance and development. Speaking at Light Reading’s Backhaul Strategies for Mobile Operators, Mayo said “We’ll begin rolling out LTE-advanced features later this year.”
Mayo wouldn’t specify exactly what “features” meant however, leaving us to imagine and hypothesize. Some general LTE-Advanced updates “include “carrier aggregation” or a technique that bonds together two or more separate radio channels to get faster speeds; two-by-two smart antenna arrays — also known as 2×2 multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) — for faster uplink and downlink; and relay nodes, low-power base stations that provide improved coverage and capacity at the cell edge.”
Carrier aggregation is a likely candidate for T-Mobile given the dual-band service T-Mobile runs with both AWS and PCS spectrum. When asked what percentage of antennas T-Mobile expects to upgrade to MIMO this year, Mayo would only laugh and say “a few.” Mayo says T-Mobile will focus on upgrading its macro network with LTE: “We’re upgrading about 37,000 of our 52,000 cell sites,” he confirmed. This will include tower-top electronics for about 3Db more of gain for a stronger 4G signal.
This conversation coincides with a similar discussion earlier this month as Kevin Fitchard at GigaOM who discovered T-Mobile’s “plan to blanket its network with extra antennas to make significant performance gains.” Long story short, Fitchard discovered T-Mobile is looking at 4×2 MIMO which in simple speak means more signals will come to your smartphone and a lot more antennas to pick up your phones weaker return signal. You can read more about T-Mobile’s efforts with 4×2 MIMO here.