Expect an LTE-only T-Mobile by 2019 if the carrier can peel legacy clingers

The dream and the goal has been clear for carriers: ditch first-generation mobile data protocols and build on top of LTE. But as some customers find it difficult to budge, the industry finds it harder — what will it do with the connections it wants to upgrade? Throw them away?

Obviously, that can’t be the answer. And it shouldn’t. AT&T shut off 2G at the start of the year and was apparently satisfied at its retention rate. Will T-Mobile do the same anytime soon?

CTO Neville Ray had a soft answer when he spoke at an Ericsson press conference during MWC 2017.

“With handset refresh cycles, you look at 2019, and I think it’s an opportunity to move to an all-LTE network,” Ray said.

Well, a nearly all-LTE network — EDGE still has spectrum at odd ends of T-Mobile’s LTE plots to serve Internet of Things device owners and connected machines like parking meters and vending machines, something it can give thanks to a “competitor” for.

Meanwhile, Wi-Fi Calling helps fill in the gaps left by Voice over LTE. But while VoLTE does have a respectable 70 percent share of calls made on the Un-carrier’s network, Ray wants “to get that last 30 percent” before going through the repacking process of 3G spectrum.

That said, the plan by 2020 is to let GSM die.

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About The Author
Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.