T-Mobile: 5G Lets Us Take Broadband Across America

Dan Jones

T-Mobile revealed on its second quarter earnings some of its plans for Layer3 TV -- if its merger with Sprint is approved -- and the "new" T-Mobile gets to build what the CEO calls a "pro-America," nationwide, 5G network, starting in 2019.

T-Mobile US Inc. plans to start deploying mobile 5G in 2019 with 30 cities named so far. "starting with New York, L.A., Dallas, [and] Las Vegas," CEO John Legere said on Wednesday's call.

The major metropolitan areas are not the only motivation for Legere's self-proclaimed "pro-competition, pro-consumer, pro-America" merger plans, though. The operator plans to cover two-thirds of the US with "over 25-Mbit/s" by 2021, and 90% by 2024, Legere says. COO Mike Sievert also referenced "100-Mbits" for two thirds of the US in the Q&A section of the call. (See Getting Real About Mobile 5G Speeds for a breakdown of anticipated T-Mobile 5G speeds, which vary widely with the planned multi-band 5G network.)

"We intend to plug into broadband -- not just mobile -- but in-home broadband," Sievert said. Indicating more directly than ever before that T-Mobile expects to take on Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Charter Communications Inc. , as well as its traditional rivals, and a multitude of more regional fixed and wireless providers, with Layer3 TV riding on the 5G signal. (See T-Mobile Buys Layer3 TV, Plans OTT Launch.)

Legere & Co. are still working through the regulatory process, but the ebullient CEO proclaimed confidence on the call.

"We think about 10 million will chose us over the first few years," Sievert said.

On the call, CTO Neville Ray said that the operator does want to add to its 28GHz millimeter wave license haul by bidding in November on the first 5G-related auction. Millimeter wave would add more speed to T-Mobile's 5G number but it is harder to deliver signal coverage and propagation. Ray says the spectrum is "not a standalone" option for a nationwide 5G mobile network.

Referencing Verizon's plan to pass 30 million homes over time with its fixed 5G millimeter product, Neville said: "That's a mighty task." In the background, someone -- probably Legere -- on the call muttered: "Expensive, too!" (See Verizon Confirms Mobile 5G in 'Early' 2019.)

Meanwhile, Ray says he is happy that Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s 2.5GHz will work well with T-Mobile's 600MHz for a mixture of speed,coverage, and propagation. "We've built the most dense [metro] network in the US, hands down," he claimed. This will include using the 600MHz layer to get signals "deep into buildings." (See Sprint's Massive MIMO 'Lynchpin' for 5G.)

Legere says 992 cities and towns have "5G-ready" 600MHz already deployed. The 5G service will be switched on through a software upgrade.

With the pace of 600MHz deployment, T-Mobile is now expecting it's yearly capital expenditure to be at the high-end of its anticipated range of $4.9 billion to $5.3 billion.

For the quarter, T-Mobile reported 1.6 million net adds for the quarter. Revenue came in at $10.6 billion, up 4% year-on-year, on net income of $782 million, or $0.92 diluted earnings per share (EPS).

T-Mobile shares were up $0.87 -- or 1.47% -- to $60.23 each in after hours trading Wednesday.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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Very interesting how "Legere says 992 cities and towns have "5G-ready" 600MHz already deployed. The 5G service will be switched on through a software upgrade." If only it were that easy to push the button and get 5G up and running that quickly. But nonetheless, it does seem they have a good plan in place to capture some market share there.
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