In a mobile climate where smartphones are more about connecting to e-mail, instant messaging, and apps than it is about making calls, is there room for a slow mobile Internet infrastructure from the past?
T-Mobile says no. Even though it is the last carrier to announce the push into 4G LTE, the new standard in mobile connectivity, T-Mobile is the first to begin the process of killing off 2G.
2G, which stands for "second generation," is what most mobile consumers used as their first experience with mobile Internet. The service was usually only available through a carrier-branded proprietary browser that was specifically designed to download and upload extremely small amounts of data.
Today, that sounds unequivocally antiquated. So for T-Mobile, shutting down its old 2G infrastructure will help it pave the road for its emerging LTE network.
This is a radical solution to what many carriers have been concerned about - the limited amount of mobile spectrum left in the US airwaves. T-Mobile is bypassing that issue altogether by essentially tapping into its existing spectrum and just remolding it.
T-Mobile already has a "4G" network in place, but it uses a standard called HSPA+, which is only a marginal upgrade from what consumers have come to expect from a 3G connection. Other mobile players and analysts disapproved of T-Mobile even referring to its new network as 4G.
But now, LTE has become the standard adopted by everyone. Verizon has a very large LTE network built up, followed by AT&T. Sprint has started laying the groundwork, and now T-Mobile has some catching up to do.