T-Mobile USA, the fourth largest cell-phone carrier in the US, discussed its broadstroke plans for 120 new wireless spectrum that will cover the entire country that it won for $4.2bn in a recent federal auction.
The carrier, which is owned Deutsche Telekom AG, said it expects to spend almost $2.7bn on upgrading its network to enable new mobile multimedia services that it claims will outshine its larger rivals.
Those rivals – Cingular Wireless, Sprint Nextel and Verizon Wireless – already have been deploying their 3G network services for more than a year.
Still, T-Mobile now has more spectrum than Sprint, or 52.2 MHz compared to Sprint’s 49.8, and roughly the same amount as Verizon, though slightly less than Cingular’s 67.6 MHz, according to T-Mobile.
Verizon, Vodafone and a consortium consisting of Sprint Next and several big cable TV companies, including Comcast, also bid on the spectrum during the past few weeks.
Clearly, T-Mobile hopes to do more than just catch up with its forthcoming network. Its new 3G services will include making PC functionality mobile and enriching existing mobile services such as email, calendar, reminders, video and audio, said T-Mobile chief executive Robert Dotson, on a conference call.
The rollout of the company’s new 3G network will begin in the current quarter and is due for completion in 2008. Most of the work, would be completed by 2008, said Deutsche Telekom.
Customers in certain, unnamed markets will be able to access some of the new services by mid-2007, Dotson said.
While the adoption of 3G data services has so far been disappointing in Europe, Dotson said the sweet spot of the 3G service innovation is enriching mobile services that have already proven demand.
No specifics of just how T-Mobile plans to do this were given. But Dotson mentioned Web 2.0, social communications, music innovation, and integrating all the communications aspects of your life onto mobile.
Dotson, who took the helm at T-Mobile in 2003, also noted that his was one of only two national mobile carriers without a landline affiliation in the US. As such, T-Mobile would be focusing on the displacement of fixed landlines … on other networks, be it voice or data services, he said.
The new spectrum made available by the Federal Communications Commission was also well timed for T-Mobile, Dotson claimed. Some of our most high-growth areas are on the verge of pushing their spectrum capacity during the next 12 months, he said.
The company’s 3G network will include HSDPA and UMA, which enables dual-mode mobile calling that is, switching a mobile call between cellular and WiFi networks. T-Mobile already has begun limited UMA trials, which will continue through the end of the year, Dotson said.
He also noted that T-Mobile has already completed half of its UMTS, or 3G, equipment rollout in New York.
Dotson declined to discuss the company’s penetration targets, but noted that the new licenses doubled its average capacity in the top 100 US markets.
WiMax is not part of T-Mobile’s 3G plans, the company confirmed yesterday. Nor are business services.
The business marketplace will not be the focus of our efforts, Dotson said. We don’t have any intent … to go head-to-head with other competitors that will fight for that smaller marketplace.