5G and Beyond

T-Mobile Makes Moves to Help Get Sprint Merger Done

T-Mobile executives unveiled three programs Thursday as the company attempts to smooth the way for its proposed $26.5 billion merger with Sprint -- free 5G for first responders, increased free Internet access for US school children and a plan to launch its lowest cost phone plan ever.

Under the banner of "5G for Good," CEO John Legere and COO Mike Sievert introduced this set of initiatives at the company's latest "Uncarrier" event Thursday. T-Mobile also revealed it will launch its near-nationwide lowband (600MHz) 5G network on December 6.

The "Connecting Heroes" program is intended to give first responders (such as police, firefighters and medical workers) free access to the carrier's 5G network for ten years. This builds on T-Mobile's "Magenta First Responder" program launched on October 28, which offered reduced costs on 4G plans for first responders.

All of the major carriers in the US offer reduced cost plans for emergency workers. AT&T already has completed 60% of the FirstNet 4G first responders network. T-Mobile's CEO decried suggestions that his company's program is not against competing against FirstNet. "We're competing against AT&T," he said, stressing that the T-Mobile program will help to cut first responders' budgets.

The operator is also pushing a project to give 10 million US school-age households free Internet access. Its "Project 10 Million" initiative will give households across the states access to free Internet to help kids connect to their school work.

T-Mobile says it will work with local organizations to determine eligibility for Project 10 Million. "You show us where they are, and we'll jointly figure out a way to get this in their hands," said Legere.

"Where you live shouldn't determine where you go in life," added Sievert.

The company also launched its lowest-cost plan yet. Starting at just $15 a month, the T-Mobile Connect plan offers unlimited talk and text, plus 2GB of 4G or 5G data a month. That's compared to their $30 a month plan that requires four lines, which is T-Mobile's next lowest cost plan.

Because 2 gigabytes of data will not last long with a 5G connection, T-Mobile says it will add 500MB of data to the plan for up to five years.

The carrier will also offer a 5GB data plan for $25.

The FCC formally approved the $26.5 billion Sprint merger earlier this week. T-Mobile and Sprint expect the merger to be closed early in 2020. The only major obstacle in the way of the merger closing is the lawsuit from 16 state attorneys general. This suit is due to start on December 9, and expected to last two to three weeks.

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— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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