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MetroPCS and Deutsche Telekom Confirm Merger Talks

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Replying to:  This Would Be a Bad Move. by Slammer   Oct 2, 2012, 5:10 PM

Re: This "Could" Be a Good Move.

by algorithmplus    Oct 2, 2012, 9:10 PM

Slammer said:
Tmobile is GSM based and MetroPCS is CDMA. While both carriers transitioning to LTE would eliminate compatibility issues, the GSM, CDMA legacy would remain for several+years. This would inherently re-live a Sprint/Nextel mess. I doesn't make sense to me. Personally, I don't know what DT is thinking.

John B.

I disagree with that statement.

If managed appropriately, the technology should not be an issue. They could pool together their LTE resources, and begin transitioning all GSM/CDMA customers to LTE as devices are upgraded or brought to market, as both companies are already planning combined GSM/LTE or CDMA/LTE devices.

Does anybody remember the Cingular acquisition of AT&T Wireless Services? IIRC, Cingular was already a majority GSM when they bought AT&T Wireless which was so strongly stuck on IS-36 (TDMA). They bought the entire company knowing an immediate transition of nearly all customers would have to take place, but they did a much better job managing company integration than did Spring Nextel.

Combining their resources would allow a larger pool of spectrum to be in use, and the combined LTE resources could actually provide more of a buffer in terms of time with the transitioning. MetroPCS is having some difficulties running both LTE and CDMA due the inefficiencies of running two technologies with limited spectrum.

Getting back to the Cingular/AT&T Wireless transition, I do remember coming across some information on the upgrade. First, there was a good feature called GAIT (GSM-ANSI-136 Interoperability Team) which allowed a single handset to access all networks the company was running (AMPS 850, TDMA 850, GSM 850, TDMA 1900, GSM 1900.) The handset was one portion, but making sure billing systems were running properly and the networks could identify which mode your phone was running on and route the call appropriately. I had a line that was running on TDMA/AMPS, then switched to a GAIT phone, then a GSM only phone with no change in plan, making the change relatively seamless since GSM coverage was prevalent. This happened over the course of 18 months or so and was very painless as a customer. The only drawback was there was no soft handoff between AMPS/TDMA and GSM.

The other piece I remember was very, very interesting. It was information that Cingular had a plan in place to monitor all TDMA/AMPS traffic versus the GSM traffic and, in markets with sufficient spectrum holdings, adjust the amount of spectrum dedicated to each side of the technology on a routine basis (such as daily.)

Now, assuming both of those pieces are fully accurate and could be applied to the GSM/CDMA to LTE transitions, the task of transitioning becomes more seamless and painless to the customer as the changes occurring simply as a device is replaced, until a minimum amount of customers with a minimum amount of devices are left running on a minimum amount of spectrum to the point the company could simply send out replacement devices or allow the customers to churn. Does this sound familiar to the sunset of AMPS? It would just be a much faster transition.

There is technology out there that allows CDMA/GSM roaming, if you could add LTE, you might be able to merge billing systems if software was compatible, or transition customers to a new system as their devices are upgraded. If the spectrum were to be controlled in that same way, that would make it easier as well.

There are many more variables to consider, such as potential synergies with spectrum which is scarce and valuable. In today's wireless world, the value of spectrum is so valuable that it might be worth taking on efforts to merge and transition, or even allow a larger customer attrition if the advantages of combining or pooling spectrum are there.

This is of course, only potential scenario, and technological constraints or advantages in this scenario have not been verified. Another scenario would follow the Sprint/Nextel integration. However, I believe that if Sprint and Nextel divisions had kept their previous level of customer service, attrition may not have been as severe as it was. It was not uncommon for billing errors and combined with a goal of outsourcing customer service to save costs and the costs to begin building out a non-standard technology the recipe for disaster began.

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