T-Mobile Expanding 5G Network Through Multi-Billion-Dollar Deals with Ericsson and Nokia

T-mobile is partnering with Nokia and Ericsson to accelerate the expansion of T-mobile's 5G infrastructure. The multi-billion-dollar deals are expected to span five years

Leveraging Ericsson’s and Nokia's infrastructures, T-mobile aims to aggressively develop its overall 5G network coverage, capacity and speed in the U.S.

"T-Mobile already has the largest 5G network in the country," said Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s president of technology. "These agreements with our longstanding 5G partners Nokia and Ericsson will help us take our 5G leadership even further, delivering ever-better experiences for our customers for years to come.”

Workers conduct maintenance on a wireless antenna. Courtesy Adobe.

Leading in the 5G market

Separately, T-Mobile, Nokia, Ericsson have been leading 5G progress.

Over the last few years, T-Mobile has strengthened its foothold in the global 5G market. For one, the Extended Range 5G from T-Mobile now boasts a coverage encompassing 1.6 million square miles. This is about 280 million people, marking a geographic expanse that quadruples the offering from Verizon and is 2.5 times what is derivable from AT&T.

Nokia has been working hard to retain its position in the 5G market. In Q3 2020, Nokia strung together 17 5G commercial agreements. This brought the count of Nokia's commercial 5G deals to 100, with the number at 160 with paid trials included. So far, over 33 5G networks leverage Nokia's existing solutions.

Ericsson has launched live commercial 5G networks on four continents. The company also has 122 commercial 5G agreements with distinct communications service providers. In Ericsson's coffers, there are another 68 publicly announced 5G contracts, spread across 40 countries.

T-Mobile's U.S. 5G network build out

T-Mobile will maximize its deals with Nokia and Ericsson to enhance its 5G network in the U.S., giving a better experience over a larger footprint.  

This will see T-Mobile expand its capabilities through new radio carrier aggregation (NR CA), multi-user massive multiple input, multiple output (MIMO), 5G carrier aggregation, network slicing and voice over new radio (VoNR). 

These capabilities will build on T-Mobile launching the first 5G stand-alone (SA) data session in the world. 

T-Mobile's Ultra Capacity 5G is also being developed. Supported by the millimeter wave and 2.5 GHz spectrum, the Ultra Capacity 5G already serves over a thousand American communities.

The Ultra Capacity 5G delivers speeds of 300 Mbps and on compatible 5G devices, up to 1 Gbps. 

From T-Mobile's projections, Ultra Capacity 5G should spread across the U.S. by December 2021. 

Nokia's and Ericsson's contributions

Considering the strides Nokia and Ericsson have been making in 5G, it is a strategic move by T-Mobile to tie into their proprietary network strengths to enhance its U.S. 5G network.

“T-Mobile will utilize Nokia’s AirScale Radio platform with 2.5 GHz massive MIMO technology, including macro and small cells across low-, mid-band and mmWave spectrum,” said Lori Mesecke, a spokesperson for Nokia.

“As part of the deal, Nokia will also enable T-Mobile to upgrade its mid-band LTE network to 5G and continue to expand its extended-range 5G network.”

Ericsson is provisioning infrastructure sourced from its Ericsson Radio System portfolio. 

This will cut across the supply of facilities such as passive and active antennae and offer holistic support for T-Mobile's coverage on lower-frequency spectrums. 

For higher frequencies, Ericsson's massive MIMO capacity will amplify T-mobile's network speeds and low-latency performance, advancing 5G spectrum efficiency.

The deal with T-Mobile couldn't come at a better time for Nokia. 

For Nokia, the tech space last year was rife with reports that Nokia missed a heavy fortune when Verizon choose Samsung over Nokia for a contract worth over $6.5 billion.

For Ericsson, the partnership is an opportunity to deepen its mark in the U.S. 5G market.

"We are proud to expand our partnership with T-Mobile, further accelerating the 5G evolution in the U.S.," said Niklas Heuveldop, president and head of Ericsson North America. "Ericsson's industry-leading radio access network portfolio enables T-Mobile to enhance its 5G network as they build out the critical mid-band spectrum."

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