T-Mobile CEO Slams Verizon's 5G Claims

T-Mobile's CEO, John Legere, blasted Verizon's claims that it will launch initial 5G commercial services in the US in 2017 as "horse shit" on the carrier's fourth-quarter earnings call Tuesday morning.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s CEO Lowell McAdam in said December 2015 that the operator would start commercial deployment of 5G in 2017, with downloads at up to 200 times faster than today's networks. "I showed my board the service in November... you don't ever go to a board with something that's not real," McAdam reportedly said at the time. (See Verizon CEO: US Commercial 5G Starts in 2017.)

"It's pure horse shit," the T-Mobile US Inc. 's CEO said of Verizon's claims during the operator's lengthy Q&A session with financial analysts Tuesday. Legere says that it is not possible for Verizon Wireless to commercially launch 5G in 2017 simply because that is "way before the handsets and standards arrive." (See Watch Out for 5G Pretenders.)

The initial 5G specification is expected to be completed in 2018, with early limited launches in 2018 and 2019. More widespread commercial deployments are expected in 2020. (See UAE Aims to be First With Nationwide 5G in 2020.)

Legere spoke up on 5G after T-Mobile's CTO, Neville Ray, had already described Verizon's 5G claims as "total BS." Big Red, he suggested, is feeling pressure from T-Mobile on the LTE front, and looking to market its network as 5G in order to get an edge.

Want to know more about 5G? Check out our 5G content channel here on Light Reading.

Ray, however, did state that T-Mobile will be starting tests on the next-gen mobile technology this year. "We'll be running our own trials both in the lab and in the field through '16," Ray said on the call.

He said that T-Mobile will be working with parent company, Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), and others on tests. T-Mobile, Ray stated, has a "large swathe" of "suitable spectrum" to test 5G in already, so won't require special licenses from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) . He did not specify what frequency band -- or bands -- that spectrum is in.

T-Mobile is the latest US carrier to say that it will run 5G tests in 2016. Verizon, as noted, said it would do so last year. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) laid out its plans for 5G tests in 2016 last week. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) is now the only major US mobile operator that hasn't revealed a test schedule for 5G.(See AT&T Lights Fire Under 5G, Plans 2016 Trials and Sprint: 5G in the US After 2020?.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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mendyk 2/17/2016 | 11:50:11 AM
Horse sense All indications are that Mr. Legere is correct in his barnyard assessment in that it's pretty hard to roll something out that doesn't exist.
DanJones 2/17/2016 | 12:02:26 PM
Re: Horse sense Yeah, I have my suspicions on what they will market as "5G" in 2017, but more on that, er, soon-ish.
TV Monitor 2/17/2016 | 2:12:39 PM
Re: Horse sense Dan Jones

T-Mobile, being a German carrier, is being advised by Nokia and Ericsson on their 5G deployment schedules, which are lagging compared to the likes of Samsung and Huawei.
DanJones 2/17/2016 | 2:49:58 PM
Re: Horse sense Well, they're highly unlikely to use Huawei anyway.

And they don't have any 28GHz spectrum that we know of (although I *do* wonder what spectrum they will use for 5G tests). Even if the FCC gets its skates on and has a 28GHz auction in the US, AT&T and Verizon will probably buy the lion's share anyway.

So given that they won't use Huawei  -- unless they want to royally piss off the US govt -- and they won't have the spectrum to do 28GHz what would you suggest they do instead? 

I'll be sure to mention your advice to Neville Ray next time I see him.
DanJones 2/17/2016 | 4:48:25 PM
Re: Horse sense Yeah, there's a few of those 28GHz holding companies, interesting to consider. The current FCC usage license for them is for fixed wireless over a mile or less though. Would still need the FCC to change the rules to allow them to be used for 5G mobility.


And Ray said on the call T-Mobile had the spectrum now, which suggests it ain't 28GHz.

 Certainly there's a bunch of holding companies that are hoping to get rich off their old fixed 28GHz/39GHz wireless sometime soon, but it hasn't happened yet

TV Monitor 2/17/2016 | 4:59:47 PM
Re: Horse sense Dan Jones

"what would you suggest they do instead? "

Carriers are free to deploy non-harmonized 5G technologies as they wish in whatever spectrum they hold, like what the Chinese are doing.

The most obvious choice is to go along with the FCC plan and spend money to deploy a 5G network in 28 Ghz band. But if T-Mobile doesn't want to go down that route, then T-mobile can buy same TD-LTE+ equipment from same non-Chinese vendor that will be supplying Sprint and do a partial width TD-LTE+ deployment(A full TD-LTE+ deployment requires 200 Mhz of bandwidth). Softbank already decided to adopt the TD-LTE+ as its 5G format last year, so there has to be a non-Chinese vendor to supply Softbank with TD-LTE+ equipment for Sprint deployment.

But the thing is that, the TD-LTE+ makes economic sense for carriers already holding a large spectrum license in sub 2.5 Ghz band like Sprint, it doesn't make sense for a carrier that must acquire new sub-2.5 Ghz spectrum to deploy TD-LTE+.

But in any case, both Nokia and Ericsson are seriously lagging behind not just Samsung, but also Huawei at this point. So any carrier that are counting on Nokia and Ericsson as the source of 5G technology is in a serious competitive disadvantage.
DanJones 2/17/2016 | 5:07:53 PM
Re: Horse sense Well recall that AT&T hasn't actually *said* they'll even use Samsung yet. And they DEFINITELY ain't using Huawei, way too much government green at risk for that.
TV Monitor 2/17/2016 | 5:30:07 PM
Re: Horse sense Dan Jones

"AT&T hasn't actually *said* they'll even use Samsung yet."

It's not like AT&T has a choice. Only Samsung's 28 Ghz 5G network would be ready for commercial service by 2020. AT&T might have to wait until 2025 if they were to wait for alternative 28 Ghz systems. The problem is that Qualcomm, Ericsson, and Nokia are hell vent on holding onto their LTE patent portfolio and are trying to carry OFDM modulation over into 5G, while Samsung gave up on OFDM and started from scratch to come up with a new modulation system suitable for mmWave, that uses fewer carrier waves to reach further.

"And they DEFINITELY ain't using Huawei,"

Huawei is willing to license its TD-LTE+ technology to a non-Chinese vendor so that they could supply for the US market.
DanJones 2/17/2016 | 6:23:06 PM
Re: Upside of an "STRP" investment Yeah, definitely looks like a possibilty.
TV Monitor 2/18/2016 | 4:15:37 PM
Re: Upside of an "STRP" investment Here is Ericsson's latest mmwave 5G test bed.

This illustrates how far behind Ericsson is relative to Samsung. Samsung's mmwave system was tracking user terminal antenna at 65 mph 1.5 years ago.
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