T-Mobile has oversupply of small cells


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.


Source: 1


  • marque2

    Seems odd Tmobile is getting rid of small cells,. And 70,000 sea like a trivial amount. I guess the new band 71 is just that good where dense downtowns no longer need the cells.

    • Shaun Michalak

      They just majorly screwed up, and double talked with this one.. In April, they were talking about how Verizon could not build out a good C-Band network because of their lack of cell sites.. All the while bragging how they will have 1.3 times the site density of Verizon with T-Mobiles total of 85,000 cell sites after they decommission 35,000 of them, vs Verizon’s 68,000 sites.. Now they say that they want to decommission 35,000 more, which will end them up with only 50,000 sites.. 18,000 less then Verizon..

  • Fan_Atl77

    We Too, an over abundance…

  • Sharti24

    Replace them all with mmW

    • marque2

      the small cells have penetrating power. mmWave can’t enter buildings. Plus because of the rapid attenuation rates, mmWave actually requires the equivalent of small cells.

  • vrm

    >>He also shared that the wireless network has “more macro sites than I really know what to do with.”

    Then why is the coverage so spotty in my area, which is highly urban ? Tmobile has band 71 and also cleared to use it but they deployed it only on one tower every 20 miles so that when the phone does connect on band 71, it is -120 db or worse ! So it keeps connecting to the weak AWS signal which is -110 db (stronger than 600 mhz).

    Ray is living in a different world than his customers. People who want to use their phone as a phone find it hard to do so with limited coverage but the corporations are pushing for propaganda via media consumption so that is their agenda.

    • marque2

      Both Sprint and TMobile have coverage issues but often they both would try to cover cities at the expense of rural areas. Tmobile doesn’t need more city coverage in a lot of places so the Sprint towers are surplus.

    • Shaun Michalak

      I would have to partly agree with him.. For example, here, T-mobile has antennas for service on one building.. and Sprint has theirs on the next building over.. It does not make sense to have them on 2 buildings in a row.. and that is what is going on with a lot of them..

  • Shaun Michalak

    I usually try to give T-mobile the benefit of the doubt.. But here they are just sticking their heads so far up their butts that it is not even funny.. April 19th, 2021 article, right on here, that led to the T-Mobile site..

    “T-Mobile plans to have 1.3x the cell density of Verizon nationally after Sprints integration, so even if you accept all of Verizon’s other claims, an argument that Verizon has sufficient density to deploy C-Band on its existing grid is still tenuous at best ” That quote came straight from the T-Mobile site which was linked to from here in April. To quote another article not from here..

    “Importantly, Verizon said that it will not have to build more cell sites to deploy a widespread C-band network. The analysts at New Street Research estimate that Verizon counts 68,000 cell sites. T-Mobile, though, said it will continue to implement the network-upgrade project it launched following the close of its merger with Sprint, which will include the operator decommissioning 35,000 cell sites to end the program with a grand total of 85,000 cell sites.”

    Now he claims that they have more sites then he knows what to do with?? and what about all that bid talk that he was going to end up with 1.3 times the site density?? It seems that Verizon is going to be the one with 1.3x the site density of T-Mobile of he drops the tower count down to 50,000, which is 18,000 less towers then Verizon currently has.. and Verizon made an agreement with a company to install tens of thousands of new towers within the next few years on top of it.. There is no way T-mobile is going to catch up the the tower count of Verizon, nor coverage ability and strength.. They just majorly screwed up..

    • marque2

      Small cell sites isn’t exactly towers. Now I am confused. Are they dropping towers or small cell sites? Are they counted together or separately?

      • Shaun Michalak

        You know, I started thinking about that after I posted that.. and have not been on to be able to say something about that.. T-mobile said that they have 110k cell sites, 35k of which they will be decommissioning. Which of course would bring it down to 75k sites.. But I forgot to take the extra 10 off so I was thinking 85k sites.. Then I see him saying that he is going to drop another 35k to bring it down to 50, which mathematically added up.. So I am thinking.. Hey, this guy is going to drop twice the number of towers that he said.. It did not help that I was not thinking about there being macro and small cells, which added to it.. Plus the site I commented is the one that brought it down to 85k sites, not me.. I just forgot to take the extra one when I confirmed it.. But it was T-mobile that said that they have over 110k sites.. So then that does not add up on either end either..

        They are probably flipping back and forth between the 2 types, not distinguishing which is which most of the time, which leads to all the confusion.. and it does not help that they say that they will end up with 85k total sites, and then say that they have 85k.. the same number.. but are going to drop it down to 50k..

    • Glenn Gore

      I am not surprised that Ray says they have an overabundance of small cells that they don’t need. T-Mobile and Sprint’s networks were almost identical in scope (very small) before the major expansion that T-Mobile did a few years ago before the merger. So they now have all those Sprint sites that they don’t need, but I’ll bet they actually do need a lot of them just to increase their site density and quality of coverage, so I hope they keep them.

      It’s too bad that those small sites are not located in the paper-thin and polka-dot coverage that T-Mobile has elsewhere in the country. They VERY badly need thousands of those small cells to fill out and densify that coverage. Of course, the ideal solution is to build macro sites to densify and fill out.

      (It is nice to see the Disqus comments back up today, but I can still only use the Vivaldi browser fo view & post comments, I can’t even see them on Firefox, Safari, and Brave)

  • Bklynman

    Wow!! I reply to someone comments on here. Agreeing with him how much Tmo news has change. Both our comments are gone!! His was the 1st comment on this story!! Tmonews has join fakenews!!

    • marque2

      It is because all the tmo news hate posts are getting tiring, it is about time they are taken down. I think this site has been very generous with allowing the complaints. I for one am tired of reading them. I am also an adult and know how to “not click” on articles of which I have less interest.

      • Shaun Michalak

        The sad part is.. I agree with you.. I lost count of how many times I see someone troll and try to start fights, I say you are wrong, and put down some facts, or show how they are one sided, and next thing you know, it is taken down.. Also, too many people commenting that let hatred take over, or just stupidity..

        A good example. I was just reading some reviews on a newer APC UPS (battery backup or uninterruptible power supply).. I saw someone make the comment that they bought a new one because they did not like having to replace the batteries every so often in the old ones.. Uh.. The batteries are like car batteries.. They say the average life span is about 5 years max, depending on conditions.. I guess they actually thought that if they bought a new UPS, that it would never need to put a new battery in it?? Comments like that I get tired of reading.. At least know what you are saying, before you post it as fact..

  • Bklynman

    Anyone who still using Note9,thought it done with updates. Check to see if you got May sercurity patch. My mine got the patch the other night. S20FE 5G got the patch late last week. So if you got either of these phones check for updates. I know Lg got out of the phone business. Tmo has only 2 Lg phones left. The Stlyo 6 and Aristo5.

    • marque2

      Email this to the site, and they will make a post about the update. There is a “submit news” button at the top. You might even get a “hat tip”

    • Willie D

      Nothing to do with this article

  • Willie D

    Notorious for low data speeds, unusable connectivity and terrible coverage TMo is going to turn off much needed small cells because why??????

    • Frank Goodman

      Costs to maintain is one reason.

      Also, the monthly lease is nearly the same if it’s a microcell T-Mobile built in 2007 or a big structure AT&T or Verizon constructed in the 1980s before new laws were passed and new zoning approvals were required.

      And your right. The higher the frequency, the more spectrally efficient the throughput and overall speed.

      So, when 5G is marketed as 5-10% faster than 4G LTE, drains battery faster, then people don’t really want it. So T-Mobile plays a trick- they show a map in the ads and marketing guy says they’re a leader. You believe it based on the map but don’t know why you want or need 5G.

      Oh, and good luck getting a paper rateplan brochure in the store disclosing rates and coverage. The last few stores I visited said T-Mobile doesn’t print those anymore, and I believe it’s on purpose. You can’t hold them accountable for something that’s not on paper or in writing.

      • Shaun Michalak

        Or maybe it is that they are just too cheap, or find them a waste to print out any more.. Either way, if you are that worried about the description of the rate plans, you still have the option to take a photo of the descriptions, or if it is online, you can print it out yourself.. So it is not like they are stopping you from getting the info.. My guess is they stopped printing them because more probably ended up in the trash, then kept for other reasons.