T-Mobile's 5G is interfering with our FWA service, Bloosurf alleges

Bloosurf, which offers fixed wireless services in Maryland and elsewhere, claims T-Mobile's 5G service is interfering with its network. And it's reiterating calls to the FCC to step in and do something.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies

April 8, 2024

4 Min Read
red sound wave
(Source: Zoonar GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo)

A fixed wireless access (FWA) provider called Bloosurf claims T-Mobile's 5G network is interfering with its operations in Maryland. And the company is asking the FCC to freeze T-Mobile's new 2.5GHz spectrum licenses until the issue is resolved.

"Bloosurf's network provides a critical lifeline to local communities, including by offering voice/911 service to many of its customers and by providing broadband access where it is not otherwise available," according to Bloosurf's new filing with the FCC. "However, due to co-channel interference caused by T-Mobile, Bloosurf customers have experienced CPE [customer premises equipment] disconnections and degraded broadband speeds. If customer CPE experiences a disconnection during an emergency, T-Mobile's harmful interference could put lives in jeopardy."

The company called on the FCC to order T-Mobile to cease transmitting its 5G signal and to block the operator from receiving the spectrum licenses it won during an FCC auction in 2022.

T-Mobile, for its part, declined to comment on the new filing. FCC officials typically do not comment on such complaints, and it's unclear whether the agency will consider Bloosurf's requests.


In its new filing, Bloosurf said it first discovered in 2020 that T-Mobile's services might be interfering with its FWA operations. Founded in 2009, Bloosurf operates a 4G FWA network in 2.5GHz and 3.5GHz CBRS spectrum across roughly 15 cell sites in Maryland. The network is partly funded with money from the FCC's CAF II program, which supplies subsidies to Internet providers so they can build networks in rural areas.

Bloosurf said it took its interference complaints to the FCC and to T-Mobile. The company said it worked with T-Mobile to conduct interference testing to determine whether T-Mobile's network was causing the interference. But, according to Bloosurf, T-Mobile pulled a fast one during the tests.

"T-Mobile never revealed, either to the commission or Bloosurf, that it was transmitting on its 5G network from the sites near Bloosurf's network," according to Bloosurf’s filing. "Rather, T-Mobile switched off its 4G transmissions but continued to operate its 5G network during the test. The interference to Bloosurf's network continued unabated, misleading engineers to believe that the harmful interference to Bloosurf was not from T-Mobile's operations."

As a result, Bloosurf filed a complaint with the FCC over the issue. However, the agency dismissed the complaint on procedural grounds, a move the company called "inapt." Now, Bloosurf has again filed a complaint on the topic in the hopes that the FCC will reconsider the issue.

Gathering spectrum

The FCC's Auction 108 of midband 2.5GHz spectrum ended in 2022. T-Mobile captured around 90% of all the licenses sold, or 7,156 of the 7,872 total licenses that received winning bids. T-Mobile agreed to pay around $304 million for those licenses – a relative steal considering the C-band auction for similar spectrum licenses generated an astounding $81 billion in winning bids.

T-Mobile paid so little for spectrum in the FCC's Auction 108 because it's the only big 5G network operator using 2.5GHz licenses in its network, because the licenses are located mostly in rural areas of the US, and because there was less overall spectrum available than in auctions like C-band.

However, T-Mobile's Auction 108 licenses ended up in limbo for more than a year after the FCC lost its auction authority. T-Mobile then took the issue to Congress, managing to get Sen. John Kennedy to shepherd legislation that requires the FCC to issue Auction 108 spectrum licenses. The agency did so at the end of February.

"The FCC should ... stay the grant of T-Mobile's Auction 108 licenses due to T-Mobile's lack of candor regarding interference testing," according to Bloosurf.

According to BroadbandNow, Bloosurf is the 99th largest fixed wireless provider in the United States with services across three US states. T-Mobile, meanwhile, is now by far the nation's largest FWA provider with almost 5 million customers. That makes T-Mobile the nation's sixth largest Internet service provider, behind the likes of AT&T, Verizon, Charter Communications, Cox and Comcast.

About the Author(s)

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like