T-Mobile ports 'uncarrier' playbook to FWA

T-Mobile held another "uncarrier" media event Wednesday, announcing several new pricing and service strategies designed to help sell its new fixed wireless access (FWA) home Internet service.

Specifically, the operator said prospective customers will be able to test its FWA service for free for 15 days. If they decide to sign up, the company said it would pay the early termination fees (ETFs) of their existing Internet service provider, up to $500.

Perhaps most importantly, T-Mobile said it will cut the price of its FWA service from $50 per month to $30 per month for customers who also subscribe to its Magenta Max smartphone plan. In doing so, the operator is implementing the same kind of service-bundling incentive that Comcast and Charter Communications have been offering across Internet and smartphone plans. Verizon recently launched similar discounts for its FWA service.

The move is T-Mobile's second FWA price reduction in less than a year. The company lowered the price from $60 per month to $50 per month in October.

T-Mobile said its FWA service covers 40 million US households, or roughly 33% of the country. (Source: T-Mobile)
T-Mobile said its FWA service covers 40 million US households, or roughly 33% of the country.
(Source: T-Mobile)

T-Mobile's latest uncarrier announcement essentially represents a replay of many of the tactics the company pioneered in the smartphone industry. During similar media events, T-Mobile announced a 15-day "test drive" for its 4G LTE network in 2019, and a $650 ETF offer for new smartphone customers in 2014.

Here are some other notable announcements from T-Mobile's event on Wednesday:

  • It will offer a $50 discount to FWA customers that they can apply toward the purchase of a new streaming device, whether from Roku, Google, Apple or another provider.
  • FWA customers can get 50% off YouTube TV for a year.
  • T-Mobile's smartphone customer-loyalty program, T-Mobile Tuesdays, will also be available to FWA subscribers.
  • T-Mobile is offering nationwide FWA services, alongside several new promotions including a free tablet, to business customers.
  • The operator may consider selling externally mounted FWA customer premises equipment (CPE) in the future, according to company officials.
  • T-Mobile doesn't plan to use its millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum holdings to reach its goal of gaining up to 8 million FWA customers by 2025. However, the company may use its mmWave holdings for FWA services at some point in the future, company officials said.
  • Roughly 50% of new T-Mobile customers are selecting its Magenta Max service plan, and around 15% of T-Mobile's customer base currently subscribes to the plan.
  • T-Mobile officials said that they may use network slicing technology to separate FWA traffic from smartphone traffic but that such divisions are currently not necessary.
  • T-Mobile estimates that its average FWA customer uses around 300 to 400 GB of data per month, but 10% are using 1 TB or more. The company said T-Mobile's FWA service provides average speeds on a nationwide basis of around 140 Mbit/s.
  • T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert said the operator would apply for government subsidies to build its FWA services in rural and underserved areas. "We're very excited about that," he said.

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

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