T-Mobile in $3.5B deal with Ericsson for “5G” Equipment; Offers extended range LTE in U.S. and Puerto Rico

Ericsson has signed a $3.5 billion multi-year deal with T-Mobile to provide the “un-carrier” with “5G” network equipment. It’s the biggest 5G order that Ericsson has announced to date.  That is in addition to the $3.5 billion “5G” agreement that T-Mobile inked with Nokia back in July.

As it moves from LTE Advanced (true 4G) to whatever it envisions as 5G, T-Mobile will use the Ericsson portfolio of products.  Ericsson will be providing T-Mobile with 5G New Radio (NR) hardware and 3GPP-compatible software. Ericsson’s digital services like dynamic orchestration, business support systems and Ericsson cloud core will be used to help T-Mobile roll out “5G” services to its customers.

“We have recently decided to increase our investments in the U.S. to be closer to our leading customers and better support them with their accelerated 5G deployments; thereby bringing 5G to life for consumers and enterprises across the country,” Niklas Heuveldop, President of Ericsson North America, said in a statement. “This agreement marks a major milestone for both companies. We are excited about our partnership with T-Mobile, supporting them to strengthen, expand and speed up the deployment of their nationwide 5G network.”

The partnership with Ericsson implies that T-Mobile’s installed base of Ericsson Radio Systems will be able to run 3GPP release 15 spec. 5G NR with a remote software installation.

Ericsson increased its market share of the mobile networks market in the second quarter, partly due to faster network upgrades in the North American, where it ranks as the biggest supplier ahead of Nokia.

T-Mobile, the third biggest U.S. mobile carrier, said in February it was working with Ericsson and rival network vendor Nokia of Finland to build out 5G networks in 30 U.S. cities during 2018.

“While the other guys just make promises, we’re putting our money where our mouth is. With this new Ericsson agreement we’re laying the groundwork for 5G – and with Sprint we can supercharge the 5G revolution,” said Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s Chief Technology Officer.  (Note that the FCC says it needs more time to review the T-Mobile-Sprint merger).


In an earlier announcement, T-Mobile says it has deployed 600 MHz (Band 71) Extended Range LTE in 1,254 cities and towns in 36 states, including the island of Puerto Rico. The Un-carrier’s furiously paced deployment of 600 MHz LTE is expanding network coverage and capacity, particularly in rural areas, and lays the foundation for nationwide 5G in 2020 with 5G-ready equipment. 

T-Mobile’s Extended Range LTE signals travel twice as far from the tower and are four times better in buildings than mid-band LTE, providing increased coverage and capacity. The Un-carrier has already deployed Extended Range LTE to more than 80 percent of Americans with 700 MHz (Band 12), and rapidly began deploying it with 600 MHz (Band 71) last year to expand coverage and capacity even further.

In April 2017, T-Mobile made its largest network investment ever, tripling its low-band spectrum holdings by purchasing spectrum sold in the US government’s 600 MHz auction. Those licenses cover 100% of the US, including Puerto Rico. Immediately after receiving the licenses, T-Mobile began its rapid 600 MHz Extended Range LTE rollout. To accelerate the process of freeing up the spectrum for LTE, T-Mobile is working with broadcasters occupying 600 MHz spectrum to assist them in moving to new frequencies.

3 thoughts on “T-Mobile in $3.5B deal with Ericsson for “5G” Equipment; Offers extended range LTE in U.S. and Puerto Rico

  1. WSJ: 5G Needs a Lot More Cell Towers. Some Residents Aren’t Happy
    City officials also complain they don’t have enough staff to handle the applications. But state and federal authorities are in the carriers’ corner.

    Residents of Denver’s Riviera apartments were surprised earlier this year when a roughly 30-foot-tall green pole appeared a few feet in front of their building entrance. The pole, installed by Verizon Communications Inc. and laden with cellular antennas, was designed to improve cellphone service in the area, but the residents complained about the placement.

    Months later, it was gone. But that was just a small taste of what’s to come across the country: Millions of Americans will soon encounter similar poles or notice antennas sprouting on existing structures, like utility poles, street lamps and traffic lights, all over their neighborhoods. All four national cellphone companies are pushing to build out their networks with a profusion of small, local cells to keep their data-hungry customers satisfied and lay the groundwork for fifth-generation, or 5G, service.

    Those plans face pushback in many places, and not just from residents. Officials in some cities say they don’t have enough staff to process applications for dozens or even hundreds of new installations. In some smaller towns, officials say they lack the expertise to review the new technology, though they’re working fast to get up to speed.

    In Wilton Manors, Fla., Mayor Gary Resnick says the Miami suburb needs more time to draft an ordinance to govern the installation of the new technology. And there are seasonal issues. “We generally restrict construction in the rights of way during hurricane season for obvious reasons,” he says.

    Just around the corner
    More than 100,000 small cells are already wired up across the U.S., according to industry research firm S&P Global . Cellphone companies plan to boost their capacity with several hundred thousand more cells to improve existing service and prepare for 5G service, which they see as a potential competitor for cable and fiber optics, among other things.

    Some of the local resistance is rooted in how small cells work. Companies can usually find space on private property for large cell towers with a range of several miles. Small cells reach only a few hundred feet, so carriers need many more sites, usually on public land, for the system to work.

    Cellphone companies don’t have much choice if they want to keep up with their customers’ appetite for data, says Jonathan Adelstein, chief executive of the Wireless Infrastructure Association, whose members include wireless carriers. “People wonder why they might be having a dropped call or slow video,” Mr. Adelstein says. “Then they have a vocal minority that are ruining it for everybody” by opposing the expansion of cellular networks.

    State and federal policy makers are mostly backing the wireless carriers. Federal Communications Commission rules passed in March exempt small-cell deployments from certain historic-preservation and environmental reviews. Another FCC rule slated for a vote this month seeks to lower local fees and would set 60-day or 90-day limits for local governments act on permit applications. A bill in Congress would deem small-cell applications granted if local governments fail to act on a request within 31 days. Dozens of state laws also restrict local governments’ control over small-cell projects.

    “It’s all gamesmanship right now,” says Angela Stacy, vice president at consultant SmartWorks Partners LLC, who advises local governments on telecommunications policy. “The carriers have basically launched a three-pronged attack” with the support of regulators and federal and state legislators.

    Officials in San Jose, Calif., have tried to parry that offensive by fast-tracking installations for carriers that have agreed to help fund a local internet-access initiative. The Silicon Valley city has licensed space on light poles for a few hundred dollars per installation, using the money to connect low-income residents to high-speed broadband at home. AT&T and Verizon have signed on to the plan and are gearing up to install equipment.

    “We tried to prove to the telecom industry that cities are not the problem,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo says. “We appreciate the industry’s position that too much red tape can get in the way.”

    At the same time, though, Mr. Liccardo says the city and its allies are “battling the industry mightily” on the federal and state level, lobbying to block policies they consider a handout to cellphone companies because they would limit the fees the carriers can be charged to install and operate small cells.

    “These poles are increasingly becoming valuable real estate,” he says. “If cities can’t manage their own infrastructure—that their taxpayers paid to install—it puts them at a considerable disadvantage.”

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  2. Speaking to Light Reading, T-Mobile confirmed 5G is ready to launch after making an unkept promise at the start of last year. At the time, T-Mobile said it would have 30 cities supplied with 5G by the end of 2018. That didn’t happen.

    The company says it’s yet to offer commercial 5G services as no smartphones on the market are compatible. T-Mobile is using 600MHz spectrum for its MOBILE 5G rollout in 2019. That frequency will cover a large distance but at lower speed than 5G telco competitors. AT&T and Verizon are opting for smaller hot spots using millimeter waves that are often associated with higher speeds, but shorter range. T-Mobile believes this will slow its rivals’ 5G rollouts with the continental US being over three million square miles.

    Post-launch, T-Mobile plans on boosting the speed of its 5G network by supplementing its 600MHz network with millimeter waves.

    T-Mobile is yet to confirm whether the 5G services it has live are citywide or just a couple of cell sites per city.

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