T-Mobile US president of technology Neville Ray (pictured) told investors the operator has more small cells than it needs and may decommission some.
The executive reiterated a goal of operating around 50,000 small cells and did not dispute an estimate from UBS equity research analyst Batya Levi placing the current total at 70,000, many of which came through its merger with Sprint.
“I have more small cells than I need”, Ray said. “Is there some decommissioning in that space? Potentially, yes”.
He said T-Mobile is “looking to collapse and combine and do that most efficiently to build that density, capacity and performance”.
Ray added T-Mobile also has “more macro sites than I really know what to do with”, which had reduced the need for small cells.
“My strategy today is primarily it’s a macro-based network in 5G”, Ray noted, explaining small cells would be deployed strategically in areas requiring additional coverage and capacity.
Other US operators are still adding small cells. Verizon said recently it plans to add 14,000 small cells to its network this year, roughly doubling its portfolio. The operator has also said it plans to continue deployments for several years. Early in 2021 Crown Castle said it had secured a contract to deploy 15,000 small cells for Verizon over a four-year period.