T-Mobile announces Q4 2011 earnings, plans to roll out LTE in 2013 [UPDATED]

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from  Omaha, NE
| Published: February 23, 2012

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T-Mobile this morning announced its Q4 2011 earnings and, although the carrier reported some significant customer losses, it also announced had some good news to share concerning its future network plans. First up, T-Mobile says that it added 220,000 branded prepaid customers during the final quarter of 2011. Things didn't go so well on the contract side of things, though, as T-Mo has reported a net contract customer loss of 802,000 in Q4 2011, which is up from the 186,000 contract customer loss is saw in Q3. CEO Philip Humm pointed to the iPhone as an explanation for the losses, saying that "not carrying the iPhone led to a significant increase in contract deactivations in the fourth quarter of 2011." T-Mobile finished Q4 2011 with a total of 33.2 million subscribers.

Moving on to network news, T-Mobile has announced its plans to roll out LTE. The carrier says that it plans to deploy LTE services in 2013 using the AWS spectrum gained from the breakup fee of the AT&T deal. Additionally, the folks at Magenta will be pouring some $4 billion for "network modernization and LTE deployment."

T-Mo says that 90 percent of the devices it sold in Q4 were 3G/4G, so it plans to refarm some of its 1900MHz PCS spectrum that's currently being used for 2G GSM and roll out HSPA+ 4G coverage on that PCS band. That'll make more room for LTE in T-Mobile's AWS band and will also harmonize its existing spectrum bands with U.S. and global operators. T-Mobile says that it expects to offer LTE in the "vast majority" of the top 50 markets and 20MHz service in 75 percent of the top 25 markets, but it notes that it needs more AWS spectrum for a broader/deeper LTE rollout.

Overall today's report was a bit of a mixed bag for T-Mobile. It's disappointing to hear that the carrier was faced with such large customer losses during the final few months of 2011, though it's also not totally surprising when you take into consideration the number of iPhones sold during the quarter and the fact that T-Mobile is the only major U.S. operator without Apple's handset. Still, we're glad to hear that T-Mo will be making the jump to LTE next year, which CTO Neville Ray says will help the carrier benefit from "a more mature LTE device ecosystem." You can find T-Mobile's full press releases at the source links below. So, T-Mobile folk, are you excited for LTE?

UPDATE: T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray took the time earlier this morning to point out that, as part of his carrier's spectrum refarming plans that will put HSPA+ on its 1900MHz bands, T-Mobile customers with an unlocked iPhone will be able to get 3G on their devices in areas where this spectrum repurposing takes place. In the past, unlocked iPhone users on T-Mobile have only been able to get EDGE speeds since T-Mobile has used the AWS 1700MHz band for its 3G. The spectrum refarming will make T-Mo's network compatible with a wider range of other unlocked devices as well.

As for an official T-Mobile iPhone launch, CEO Philip Humm didn't have any news to share, saying that T-Mo will need the "right terms" before inking a deal with Apple. Until then, Humm says that T-Mobile will keep on promoting is Android and Windows Phone products.

Via T-Mobile (1), (2), The Verge, @TMobile