T-Mobile Aims to Match Verizon 4G Coverage, Not Big on Fixed 5G

For its next trick, T-Mobile is looking to match Verizon's 4G LTE coverage, but the operator's CTO has made it clear he isn't interested in following Verizon down the fixed 5G path.

"We plan to materially close the gap by the end of the year," T-Mobile US Inc. 's CTO Neville Ray told CNET in an interview Thursday.

The US population stands at 318.9 million and Verizon's 4G LTE network covers 98% of it at the monent. T-Mobile currently covers 311 million people across the US.

T-Mobile is currently adding more low-band 600MHz spectrum to its network, as well as bidding in the incentive auction to acquire more. (See T-Mobile CEO: We'll be a 600MHz Auction Winner.)

On the operator's recent earnings call, Ray made it clear that he's not going to be following Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) in using early 5G networks to take fixed broadband to the home. (See Verizon Could Take Fixed 5G Nationwide.)

"What I'm not hugely excited about is the optimization of delivery of broadband to the home," Ray notes, instead he's waiting for "mobility solutions" he expects in 2019 or 2020.

"We will push very hard to make sure that it comes into the mobility space as soon as possible and we'll be a leader in that, but a lot of work needs to happen," he adds.

For all the latest news on 5G, visit the 5G site here on Light Reading.

The comments neatly illustrate the difference between Verizon and T-Mobile. Verizon is motivated to make 5G an alternative to cable because it expects it to be cheaper to deploy than FiOS.

T-Mobile, having no wired network to tend to, is focused purely on the mobility aspects of next-gen wireless. In fact, Ray is expecting mobile 5G to be layered in with 4G in urban areas over time.

"The base layer of technology over the next 10 years, 15 years is going to be 4G LTE," he notes.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

TV Monitor 8/8/2016 | 10:52:06 AM
T-Mobile advised by wrong vendor on long term planning The reason T-Mobile is shy on fixed 5G, and why Verizon is being so aggressive, has to do with which vendors they are dealing with.

Verizon's primary 5G partner is Samsung, whose 28 Ghz 5G tech offers unlimited spatial spectrum recycling, that is a base station can serve 1000 different user terminals without degrading individual user's bandwidth because each user terminal is served by separate individual mmwave pencil beams as long as they do not occupy same physical location. This is why carriers using Samsung 5G do not need additional spectrum license to serve additional customers, as long as the basestation can support the amount of data. In other word, Samsung 5G is basestation capacity limited and not spectrum limited.

T-Mobile is a German carrier and is advised by Ericsson and Nokia, whose 5G technologies do not offer spatial spectrum recycling due to limitations of their technologies. In other word, everyone must share single channel and the performance would degrade as more users are added to that single channel.
danielcawrey 8/5/2016 | 3:19:59 PM
Cable Making 5G an alternative to cable is an ambitious bet for Verizon. 

I can see why T-Mobile just wants to continue down the path of providing more 4G. The company's customer base are looking for cheap solutions paired with good coverage. Verizon is in another tier entirely. 
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