MetroPCS, USA: Enabling 4G LTE for all
Consumer markets are constantly evolving, and operators have to offer products and services that meet their customers’ needs. MetroPCS, which relied on its CDMA technology, found it was unable to keep up with increasing demand for data capacity. It needed a solution, fast.
Faced with increasing consumer demand, limited spectrum assets and a need to provide the best user-quality network, MetroPCS partnered with Ericsson to launch the first 4G LTE network in the US, a milestone in the telecom landscape.
The benefits of LTE
LTE simplified the network and increased spectral efficiency significantly while driving down costs.
The transformation, which began at the end of 2009, included Ericsson LTE /Evolved Packet Core products as well as turnkey services and was completed within a year.
Malcolm Lorang, CTO and cofounder of MetroPCS, says it was important to the company that it stay ahead of the competition by offering the latest standards-based technology available, while providing a service that didn’t burden users with high costs.
“Rich communication is what people are demanding, and we need to ensure they get the right solutions to keep them happy. However, not everyone wants to enter a phone contract that they can’t control – nor can everyone afford to – so it was great to find a solution that was able to do both.”
But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Nishant Batra, Ericsson VP and Key Account Manager for MetroPCS, says innovation, perseverance and speed were essential.
There were numerous product design challenges that had to be overcome because the technology was still new, standards were still evolving and this was the first such large-scale deployment.
“Our Services teams worked closely with the global Ericsson organization and the customer to deliver truly innovative end-to-end solutions, whether the focus was planning, design, deployment or optimization,” Batra says. “We did this with great speed and quality, market-by-market, in 12 markets across the US. Deploying a network of this scale in record time was definitely a challenging and intense experience.”
He also recalls the supply challenges, such as when volcanic ash from an eruption in Iceland completely disrupted transportation across the Atlantic.
But all the obstacles were overcome thanks to constant communication between the partners, excellent project management and a strong desire to launch the first 4G LTE network in the US.
And that is what they did. Months before the competition, MetroPCS was first to market with 4G LTE services. Looking ahead as a testament to the strength of the partnership, MetroPCS has asked Ericsson to take on several subsequent assignments. One of the most significant is to build a microwave-based backhaul network to support the current LTE network.
“Business only succeeds when you meet the demands of the customer,” Lorang says. “The difficult thing in today’s economy is that business is no longer stationary – it is constantly changing. What was true a year ago is not true today, and what is true today will not be true a year from now. So it’s important to always stay ahead of the pack.
“The responsiveness we see from the Ericsson staff is greatly appreciated. They are willing to work with us and go the extra mile. It’s a very valuable partnership for both of us.”
Batra agrees. “Helping MetroPCS stay ahead of the curve when it comes to LTE technology is very beneficial for Ericsson because it gives us the opportunity to ensure we stay ahead of the curve too.”