T-Mobile is in position to broaden its 5G footprint in 2020.
The carrier has a 600MHz 5G footprint in the US that covers over 200 million people now. "We can readily take that number up 30, 40 percent in 2020," CTO Neville Ray said on the carrier's Q4 call on Thursday afternoon. He stressed that new 5G deployments in 2020 will include rural areas.
T-Mobile also expects to introduce 5G phones that support multiple frequencies this year. The company currently has two 600MHz 5G-compatible handsets available, but expects to expand that number in 2020.
T-Mobile currently covers the widest 5G footprint in the US, but with the slowest 5G speeds. T-Mobile has seen speeds of 120 Mbit/s to 130 Mbit/s on its 600MHz 5G network -- or about 20% faster than 4G LTE -- compared to the 1-Gig download capabilities of Verizon's millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G network. The trade-off is that mmWave offers minimal coverage compared to 600MHz. Highband 28GHz barely covers 1,000 to 2,000 feet in metro areas, compared to 600MHz and its ability to cover entire US towns and cities.
CTO Ray also claimed that Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) would not be a coverage panacea for Verizon in 2020. DSS can share lowband and midband spectrum between 4G and 5G. That could set the table for possible increased coverage for Verizon's 5G network in 2020 because it would allow the company to use existing 4G spectrum for 5G, too.
Ray suggested that DSS would be delayed and have capacity problems in 2020. "It's in the radio software right now," Ray said, without naming vendors that may be having technical issues.
The merger and more On the call, T-Mobile execs repeatedly expressed confidence that its proposed $26.5 billion merger deal with Sprint will be approved. A major part of that merger involves getting Sprint's 2.4GHz spectrum, which could increase T-Mobile's 5G speeds. T-Mobile CEO John Legere and other T-Mobile top brass, however, reiterated on the call that they didn't yet know when the deal will be completed.
T-Mobile added over 1 million branded monthly contract (postpaid) customers in Q4, and 1.9 million customers overall. Total Q4 revenues of $11.9 billion were a record, while net income was $751 million, up 17% year-over-year.
- T-Mobile Adds 1.9 Million Total Customers in Q4
- T-Mobile COO: 'Right Is on Our Side' in Sprint Merger
- Verizon CEO Says Dynamic Spectrum Sharing Will Arrive for Shared 4G & 5G in 2020
- T-Mobile execs talk up 5G prospects while merger trial proceeds
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading