T-Mobile USA Inc. awarded multiyear network-equipment supply contracts to Ericsson AG and Nokia Siemens Networks Oy to build a national long-term-evolution network in the U.S.
The contracts cover LTE network installation at 37,000 cell sites as part of a $4 billion network modernization plan designed by T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom AG, which has said it will fund the work with cash flow from T-Mobile. The contracts end in 2013.
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T-Mobile, which lost 1.65 million monthly-contract customers last year as the only carrier without the Apple Inc. iPhone, is trying is trying to catch its competitors in the LTE race. Verizon Wireless is more than a year along in LTE, while AT&T Inc. offers the service in 35 U.S. markets. Overland Park-based Sprint Nextel Corp. plans to start LTE in six markets around midyear.
While T-Mobile doesn’t carry the iPhone, later this year customers can bring their unlocked devices to the carrier’s network, Neville Ray, the company’s chief technology officer, said. The iPhone 4S uses 1900-megahertz spectrum and after upgrades at T-Mobile this year it will be compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile’s network, Ray said, speaking to reporters last night at a dinner in New Orleans as part of the CTIA International Wireless event
The contract is a significant development for Espoo, Finland-based Nokia Siemens Networks, which has struggled in a market dominated by Zurich-based Ericsson AG. T-Mobile says it will reuse some of its existing airwaves and include some of the spectrum it acquired from AT&T earlier this year for the LTE network construction.
“We’re making great progress on our four billion dollar 4G network transformation,” Ray said in a statement. Ray also said he expects nationwide LTE coverage in 2013.