With the prevalence of 4G LTE coverage and devices, there’s been some discussion of shutting down older networks. Today T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray touched on the topic as it relates to T-Mo.
Speaking during MWC 2017 in Barcelona, Ray explained that T-Mo would like to have GSM turned down by 2020, if not sooner. “What do we do first, 3G or 2G? That’s primarily driven by what you can do on voice,” Ray said, adding that a focus is on moving customers with older phones to newer models that support VoLTE.
The number of VoLTE phone calls conducted on T-Mobile has been growing steadily lately, and right now, around 70 percent of T-Mo phones calls are done using VoLTE. As customers with older phones upgrade to new ones that support VoLTE, that number will grow and the need for 2G and 3G coverage will decrease. “With handset refresh cycles, you look at 2019, and I think it’s an opportunity to move to an all-LTE network,” Ray said.
T-Mobile VoLTE service reached nationwide status in July 2014, and by the end of 2015, 40 percent of all calls being made on T-Mobile were being made with VoLTE. That number grew to 64 percent at the end of 2016 and is now at 70 percent, so there are definitely more customers using VoLTE. As more people upgrade to VoLTE-capable phones and T-Mo continues to improve its coverage, the percentage of VoLTE calls will continue to grow and certainly could get close to taking that final 30 percent in the next couple of years.
Ray also touched a bit more on T-Mobile’s recent efforts to promote its 2G network for machine-to-machine use. “We found a very cost-effective and low-taxing spectrum methodology to run GSM for more time,” he explained, with 2G operating in the edges of T-Mo’s LTE bands.