T-Mobile USA has confirmed that it has awarded multi-year network equipment supply contracts to two international vendors, Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN); both agreements relate to the deployment of T-Mobile’s Long Term Evolution (LTE) network. The contracts, which Bloomberg says are worth around USD4 billion, will see 37,000 cell sites upgraded to support LTE. Chief technology officer Neville Ray commented: ‘We are making great progress on our USD4 billion 4G network transformation’, adding that he expects the cellco to achieve nationwide LTE coverage as early as 2013.
Bloomberg also reports that T-Mobile, which is currently the only major mobile carrier not to support the Apple iPhone, will allow customers to bring their unlocked devices to its network later in the year, following compatibility-related network upgrades. Last month Alaskan cellcos GCI Communications and Alaska Communications, alongside NTelos Wireless of Virginia, Appalachian Wireless of Kentucky and the Matanuska Telephone Association, started to offer the iPhone, charging USD150 for the basic 4S model, USD49 less than the price charged by AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. Controversially, in May 2010 Apple went on record to say that the original agreement signed with AT&T for iPhone exclusivity back in 2007 was a five-year deal, although both Verizon and Sprint Nextel were later permitted to sell the device during that period. C Spire (formerly Cellular South) became the first non-Tier 1 mobile carrier to offer the iPhone, in October last year.