T-Mobile said it will have six of the top ten US markets -- as well as hundreds of American cities -- ready for its low-band 600MHz 5G service to be switched on in the first half of next year.
T-Mobile US Inc. 's CEO John Legere said on the company's earnings call Wednesday that T-Mobile will be able to use a "software upgrade" to convert its installed 600MHz infrastructure to support the 3rd Generation Partnership Project 2 (3GPP2) 5G New Radio (5G NR) standard as well as 4G LTE. T-Mobile has been deploying this 5G-ready equipment this year. Legere reiterated that six of the ten markets,"including New York," will be part of the initial push.
Later on the call, CTO Neville Ray said that the software upgrade will be ready "early next year." 5G-compatible smartphones are expected to go commercial in the first half of 2019. (See T-Mobile to Roll Out 5G in 30 US Cities in 2018.)
Low-band 600MHz 5G is the next-generation bedrock for T-Mobile. Although not as fast as millimeter wave, the band's range and propagation characteristics give the carrier a base to deliver a nationwide network using the next-gen technology. Download speeds would start at around 200 Mbit/s. (See 5G in the USA: Fall Edition.)
T-Mobile executives are still on message about the company's merger with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and an anticipated close in the first half of 2019. Legere reiterated how the merger will bring in revenue, create jobs, and help America retain "its global leadership in wireless." (See Can the 'New' T-Mobile Make America's Networks Great Again?)
A combined Sprint and T-Mobile would have a combined low (600MHz), mid (2.5GHz), and high (29GHz, 39GHz) portfolio to throw at 5G. Legere said they would able to offer speeds "well beyond what either company can deliver on a standalone basis." In fact, they offer average mobile 5G speeds of over 400-Mbit/s, those companies have said. CTO Ray noted that T-Mobile is still interested in the C-Band for future mid-band expansion. (See Getting Real About Mobile 5G Speeds.)
For the quarter, T-Mobile raked in 1.6 million net customer adds, with nearly 1.1 million being monthly subscribers, and 35,000 being prepaid (pay-as-you-go) customers. "We expect to capture nearly 60% of total postpaid [monthly] phone growth," Legere said. The company is predicting 3.8 million to 4.1 million branded postpaid customer adds for the year.
The operator reported total revenues of $10.8 billion for the quarter. Net income is up 45% year-on-year, at $795 million.
T-Mobile shares were up 3.25%, at $66 each, in after-hours trading Tuesday.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading