T-Mobile gave a peek into their future plans on Friday, which look to include high-speed 3G networks in 2007, enhanced mobile e-mail options, and perhaps working with Apple.
The announcement comes in the wake of T-Mobile spending $4.2 billion for 120 new wireless spectrum licenses in the 1,700 and 2,100 Mhz bands, covering the entire United States. The new spectrum will help T-Mobile USA become the largest element of the international T-Mobile group, based in Germany, Kai-Uwe Ricke, chief executive of parent company Deutsche Telekom, said at a press conference Friday in New York City.
"T-Mobile USA has become an undeniable success story," he said. Four billion dollars may sound like a lot of money, but it's a deal in the high-stakes game of wireless, T-Mobile USA Chief Executive Robert Dotson said. While Verizon Wireless spent $2 billion for 20 MHz of spectrum in New York a few years ago, T-Mobile got their new 20 MHz in New York for only $400 million.
The new spectrum puts T-Mobile ahead of Sprint and roughly on par with Verizon in terms of average spectrum in the top 100 US markets, according to T-Mobile. The company now has an average of 52.2 Mhz spectrum, compared to Sprint's 49.8, Verizon's 53.1 and Cingular's 67.6.
What Dotson didn't mention, though, is that T-Mobile's new spectrum is in bands that no current phone supports?new devices will have to be developed to work in the new 1,700-MHz and 2,100-MHz bands. While many European countries have a 2,100-MHz band as well, their band is configured differently, so European 2,100-MHz devices will not be able to work well on the American version. The 1,700 and 2,100 Mhz bands also require more towers per square mile than the 850 Mhz band where Verizon and Cingular are strong.
T-Mobile paints their lack of 850 Mhz as a strength, though. Supporting what they call two bands (they lump 1,700 and 2,100 together) is less complicated than supporting three, they say.
The additional spectrum, plus new services, will help T-Mobile jump to 35 to 40 million customers by 2015, said Karl-Gerhard Eick, CFO of Deutsche Telekom. While that's a jump from T-Mobile's current subscriber base of roughly 24 million customers, it's still short of Cingular's and Verizon's totals.