Mehul Shah is a principal architect with T-Mobile USA in the Network Technology group. He is speaking in the LTE Evolution track on Day One of the LTE Asia conference taking place on the 18th-19th September 2013 at the Suntec, Singapore.
How is your LTE roll-out going?
As of July 1st 2013 T-Mobile USA covers 157million POPs with LTE. We have publicly stated that we intend to cover 200M POPs by end of 2013.
You marketed HSPA+ as 4G. Do your customers appreciate the difference that LTE brings?
LTE is on top and in addition to our nationwide 4G HSPA+ network. Customers with LTE devices get access to both 4G technologies and T-Mobile 4G LTE devices will automatically and seamlessly transition to T-mobile’s 4G network
You’ve already moved to IPv6. Why did you decide to deploy earlier that some other telcos?
We did not move earlier than everyone. Verizon Wireless has over 25 per cent of all its traffic on IPv6 right now. Our reason for moving to IPv6 is directly tied to the issue of IPv4 being difficult to acquire, the large growth in always-on subscribers, the prevalence of multiple devices per person (phone, tablet, Mi-Fi), and the potential for M2M. In 2008, we had a clear realisation that we could not maintain growth using IPv4, so we needed to pivot our business towards IPv6. We realised that being tied to IPv4 was a business risk and supporting IPv6 was a business opportunity
What were the challenges of moving to IPv6 and what can other operators learn from theses?
The first challenge was device availability. When we started the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone – none of them supported IPv6 on the cellular interface. Now though, device availability is no longer a problem. Another challenge was billing, making sure that systems could properly process the IPv6 data field in the CDR.
Now though, there is also the issue of roaming. We discovered a challenge maintaining IPv6 when roaming, but we are side-stepping that issue and just doing IPv6 in the home network and IPv4 in the visited network.
What’s your timetable for LTE Advanced and what its most critical features?
T-Mobile is deploying the latest state-of-art 4G LTE network hardware, so we can move to advance features without needing to install new infrastructure. The features currently deployed on T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network leverage Release 8 technology. We have not announced LTE Advanced launch timing.
What do you hope to gain out of attending LTE Asia?
The widespread deployment of IPv6 among LTE mobile network operators will support healthy and sustainable growth of mobile networks around the world. Increasing the operational experience of IPv6 network deployment among LTE mobile network operators will also help build an environment that will foster innovation. I would like reach out to other operators and share T-Mobile’s positive experience on IPv6 so others will start implementing IPv6 on their LTE networks.