T-Mobile has signed a $ 3.5 billion deal with Ericsson for 5G networking equipment, allowing the self-proclaimed "un-carrier" to continue its plans for nationwide deployment in the US.
The deal includes core network hardware and software, including products from the recently updated Ericsson Radio System (ERS) range.
In addition to laying the foundation for 5G, the new technologies will boost the 4G network of T-Mobile, while existing radio equipment from the operator will be upgraded remotely via a software update to support 5G New Radio.
ERS now supports sharing of the spectrum that allows operators to simultaneously control 4G and 5G services within the same spectrum band. This may speed up the provision of national 5G coverage as operators do not have to dedicate LTE assets to 5G – a move that would negatively affect 4G performance.
The arrangement builds on a previous $ 3.5 billion deal with 5G network equipment that T-Mobile signed with Nokia in July. Ericsson and Nokia compete with Huawei, Samsung and others for the right to provide operators around the world with next generation networking equipment.
"While the other guys make promises, we put our money where our mouth is," said Neville Ray, T-Mobile CTO. "With this new agreement from Ericsson we lay the foundation for 5G – and with Sprint we can make the 5G revolution extra good."
"We recently decided to increase our investments in the US to be closer to our leading customers and better support them with their accelerated 5G deployments, bringing 5G to life for consumers and businesses across the country," added Niklas Heuveldop, Ericsson & # 39; s North American chef, added.
All four major US operators have advanced 5G roadmaps with the first services to go live later this year. Initially, they will only support Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband service with millimeter Wave (mmWave) spectrum, with the first 5G smartphones set to arrive in 2019.
T-Mobile hopes to merge with rival Sprint, as the deal will accelerate the development of 5G in the US. It claims that the combination of the long range of 600 MHz with 28 GHz mmWave bandwidth makes it possible to create a real national network.
It argues that its rivals only have the mmWave spectrum, which delivers high capacity but has a relatively low range, making it suitable only for urban areas and broadband with fixed wireless access (FWA).
Critics are concerned, however, that the reduction of four operators to three will reduce competition and harm consumers.