Supply concerns ease as T-Mobile adds Arcadyan to FWA lineup

T-Mobile is now selling fixed wireless access (FWA) equipment from Arcadyan, a move that T-Mobile says is partly designed to shore up supplies amid shortages experienced by its initial FWA vendor, Nokia.

"Because demand for T-Mobile Home Internet has consistently been so high, we've increased the number of 5G gateways we offer customers. Adding additional gateways to our portfolio helps us ensure that we can maintain the inventory needed to keep up with interest in our Home Internet service," T-Mobile wrote in response to questions from Light Reading. "Both of our 5G gateways (Nokia and Arcadyan) offer the same key features and great experience, including standard Wi-Fi, multiple home network (SSID), and connection to T-Mobile's massive 5G network. Customers will receive the first device available, based on inventory levels at the time they sign up."

T-Mobile said its FWA business is based in part on its extensive 2.5GHz 5G coverage. (Source: T-Mobile)
T-Mobile said its FWA business is based in part on its extensive 2.5GHz 5G coverage.
(Source: T-Mobile)

When T-Mobile first launched its FWA business more than a year ago, company officials reported difficulty getting enough chips to supply demand. "We know there will be a little more demand initially than we can serve," T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert said at the time. "Thanks for your excitement and your patience."

The shortages specifically involved Nokia's gateway, which is an FWA router box that sits inside customers' homes and offices. So, it was no surprise that T-Mobile added Arcadyan to its gateway vendor lineup earlier this year, as some reports indicated it would.

Arcadyan is headquartered in Hsinchu, Taiwan, and operates R&D and support centers in Taiwan and China. The company sells gateways, modems and routers throughout the US, Europe and international markets.

"We expect a little bit more supplier diversity on the router side in 2022, which will help fill that supply need," T-Mobile CFO Peter Osvaldik said during a January investor event, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

By March, the situation had eased, according to T-Mobile's networking chief Neville Ray. "Router supply is good. We're diversifying that element of the supply chain, so that piece is good," he said during an investor event in March, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

Strong growth

As T-Mobile works to shore up its FWA supplies, the company is expected to report significant growth in its in-home Internet business. The financial analysts at Morgan Stanley Research recently predicted that T-Mobile will report 275,000 new FWA customers during the first quarter and fully 1 million during the course of 2022.

T-Mobile counted a total of 646,000 FWA customers at the end of the fourth quarter of 2021, up from 422,000 at the end of the third quarter and 100,000 at the end of the fourth quarter of 2020. The operator has said that it expects to gain a total of up to 8 million FWA customers by 2025.

T-Mobile's FWA rollout, alongside a similar effort by Verizon, is being closely watched in terms of how it might impact cable operators like Comcast and Charter.

Finally, T-Mobile isn't the only company that has been hit by chip-related supply shortages. Vendors ranging from Apple to CommScope to Casa Systems have reported difficulties in obtaining enough electronic components to meet demand.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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