T-Mobile Execs Talk Merger & 5G

Dan Jones
9/17/2019

T-Mobile executives offered what updates they could about the company's ongoing merger with Sprint as well as the company's plans for 5G Tuesday at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York.

"We're really confident the deal will close about three months ago," joked T-Mobile Chief Operating Operator and President Mike Sievert, describing the $26.5 billion merger as being in "uncharted territory." He said the company couldn't go into further detail on the deal but noted the company is hopeful it can get the deal done this year. However, if it goes to litigation, it will close next year.

T-Mobile has already received approvals from the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the FCC but still faces a court case from 16 state attorneys general, which is due to start on December 9. The state AGs consider the merger to be anti-competitive for the American consumer.

T-Mobile executives instead see the merger as a pathway to 5G. "It allows us to lay down a network that goes from [downloads of] 30 megabits [per second] today to 400 [megabits per second]," said CTO Neville Ray. T-Mobile will roll out 600MHz lowband, 2.5GHz midband and highband millimeter wave (mmWave) technology to construct its multi-layer 5G network.

"As soon as this deal closes we can start deploying 2.5[GHz] on our network," Ray said. T-Mobile has started its 5G rollout with a limited mmWave spectrum deployment but will continue with a nationwide 600MHz rollout in 2020.

Sievert, Ray and company CFO Braxton Carter stressed that the nationwide launch will initially be aimed at smartphone users rather than drones or autonomous vehicles. "Don't bet against speed and capacity," Sievert said.

"5G smartphones are going to go mainstream as we move into 2020," said Ray. The first multimode devices that support 600MHz are expected to arrive late this year.

Ray argued that the US is not necessarily in the lead in the 5G, as AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson had suggested during his talk at the investor conference earlier in the day. Ray cited the April midband nationwide launch of 5G in South Korea, rather than the limited rollout of mmWave in the US, as the future for 5G.

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— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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