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T-Mobile Sprint Network Integration could leverage Multi-Vendor HetNet, SON, SDN and NFV

by Sue Rudd | Apr 30, 2018

Cuts in macro cell sites do NOT mean proportional cuts in equipment.

It is a bit too soon to evaluate the specific vendor impact and we will have more information when the US Department of Justice Anti-trust filing is made.

Although the two companies say that they are “projecting a reduction of roughly 25,000 macro sites.”

It is not clear whether that will actually mean fewer antennas and radios and less base station processing in the near term.

Much of the equipment at those sites may be relocated to other sites or sites may be converted for a new ‘5G ready’ 4G small cell underlay.

So it may even have a positive impact on equipment sales.

Even with consolidation on the towers the new T-Mobile will continue to need multiple antennas/Remote Radio Heads (RRHs) for a long period as several of the frequencies are in very different parts of the Spectrum. And weight considerations will limit what can be combined in a single enclosure.

Integrating Networks is not as hard as it used to be.

‘Rip and Replace’ may no longer be the best option for merging diverse infrastructure networks

The issue of who will be the anchor vendor at every remaining macro or small base station site may take on a very different aspect than when T-Mobile acquired Metro-PCS. Today HetNets from several vendors are able to provide metro and small cells that can underlay other vendors’ macro cells with integrated management and sometimes identical user and administrative services. So all three vendors can continue to play important roles.

1. SamsungHetNet Interworking & Multi-RAT Support’

“Samsung's Small Cell products have been designed from the ground up for seamless interworking with legacy macro networks, and an emphasis on performance parity between single vendor and multi-vendor environments, demonstrating a 100% handover success rate in the field.”

2. Nokia with its seamless service interworking ‘Heterogeneous networks, HetNets, let you mix and match for the best’

“Heterogeneous Network solution deploys a big variety of technologies, frequencies, cell sizes and network architectures to optimally respond to rapid changes in customer demand.”

Both these players have demonstrated multi-vendor interoperability with a number of service providers.

3. Ericsson itself is changing its approach and has already demonstrated 5G NR multi-vendor interoperability. See ‘Ericsson: Global Mobile Industry Leaders Achieve Multi-band 5G NR Interoperability’ Dec 2017.

For example Verizon is now testing Ericsson and Nokia Interoperability with Multiple others in 3.5GHz band for LTE indoors and outdoors. And Verizon has already selected Ericsson for 5G Core.

SDN and NFV make Multi-vendor Multi-Frequency networks manageable.

Although there is no indication yet of T-Mobile’s plans to use SDN/NFV to integrate the two networks, NFV already enables infrastructure domains to be ‘mixed and matched’ at a low cost under common MANO and Orchestration.

Going forward there is even an opportunity for new ORAN and TIP vendors who support multi-vendor solutions to interoperate seamlessly at a much lower TCO.

Interoperability is now feasible and becoming inexpensive because of NFV.


Biggest impact of the merger if it does happen could therefore be to:

  • Create a very large HetNet across multiple vendors, frequencies and radio protocols including:
    • Existing Legacy Radio Infrastructure Vendors
    • Soft Configurable Radios (A technology John Saw Sprint’s CTO pioneered at Clearwire)
    • New Open RAN (ORAN) radio solutions at lower cost
    • §vRAN and hybrid multi- vendor HetNets
    • Self-Organizing Networking (SON) for seamless RF management across diverse Radio Solution
  • Open the door for macro cell vendor independent solutions:
    • Nokia or Samsung Small cell underlay (transparent to the overlay macro cell)
    • New VNF Ecosystems including multi-domain MANO and Orchestration vendors
  • Accelerate 5G deployment.
  • Free up Spectrum to support Fixed Mobile Convergence for Rural areas
  • Accelerate Refarming of remaining 3G spectrum to ‘5G ready 4G’

Join Sue Rudd at Network Virtualization Europe  22-24 May in Madrid to explore the operators’ experience with NFV and SDN deployment. Book your free operator pass here:

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