In a recent call with investors, T-Mobile president of technology, Neville Ray, shared that the company has more small cells than it needs. And because of this, it may need to decommission some of these small cells.
As reported by UBS equity research analyst Batya Levi, there is an estimated total of 70,000 small cells that are in operation. Many of these small cells came with T-Mo’s merger with Sprint. Although Ray did not dispute this estimate, he reiterated that they have a goal of operating approximately 50,000 small cells.
“I have more small cells than I need. Is there some decommissioning in that space? Potentially, yes.” said Ray in the call.
The T-Mobile executive shared that the company is “looking to collapse and combine and do that most efficiently to build that density, capacity and performance.” He also shared that the wireless network has “more macro sites than I really know what to do with.”
Ray also explained that his strategy is to deploy small cells in areas that need additional coverage and capacity in order to make this “a macro-based network in 5G.”
While T-Mobile is planning to decommission some of its small cells, its other rivals are still adding to their supply. In 2020, Verizon signed a deal with Crown Castle to add 15,000 small cells in the next four years.