Operators need spectrum to build their networks in much the same way that you need meat to host an awesome barbecue party; the more the better. T-Mobile, which is the smallest of America’s four largest operators, was once laughed at for opting to buy spectrum in the 1700 MHz band for 3G since no one, at the time, was making devices that supported such an odd band. Years later it’s paid off and T-Mobile’s 3G strategy, which has been to use cutting edge HSPA+ equipment to hit speeds that match or in some cases exceed what Verizon offers with LTE and what Sprint offers with WiMAX, is looking to be one of the best business decisions in history. Yet when people ask T-Mobile what their going to do after they double their current 21 Mbps network to 42 Mbps they’ve admitted that upgrading to LTE isn’t in the picture. From a financial perspective that makes perfect sense since LTE gear is so new that it’s costly to purchase. From a spectrum perspective it also makes sense since T-Mobile doesn’t really have that much. That’s looking to change according to a report from Bloomberg (via: Reuters) who says Clearwire, which is 54% owned by Sprint, may become wholly owned by Sprint sooner rather than later and that they need money, so a spectrum sale makes the most sense.
However T-Mobile decides to use that spectrum, which again is oddly located in the 2500 MHz range, is something we can’t yet speculate on, but we imagine a situation where dual carrier HSPA+ may be used to deliver an 84 Mbps network. Should T-Mobile opt for LTE then they’ll be able to go even higher, but again, this is all guess work since we don’t know just how much spectrum T-Mobile is interested in buying.
All we know is that America’s fastest network is going to keep on getting faster.