T-Mobile is taking the fight straight to AT&T and Verizon. Here’s how.
T-Mobile is coming out swinging against Verizon and AT&T, saying it will use the 31MHz of low-band 600MHz spectrum on which it spent nearly $8 billion to roll out a full nationwide 5G network by 2020, something that neither AT&T nor Verizon have committed to.
In a combination press release/blog post/video blog unveiled this week, both T-Mobile CEO, John Legere, and its chief technology officer, Neville Ray, strongly oppose AT&T’s “fake 5G network” announcement from April, saying that it is “based on [4G LTE] technologies [T-Mobile] launched in 2016 – and tried to confuse consumers and distract from the fact that their network is losing to T-Mobile.”
T-Mobile says that 5G is going to be about more than speed.
T-Mobile intends to launch a proper 5G network with its low-band spectrum, augmenting it with some 200MHz of millimeter-wave, or super high-band, spectrum to boost capacity in big cities. AT&T and Verizon haven’t yet committed to a specific 5G rollout yet, opting to take the slower, more restrained approach of testing a variety of network configurations in select cities, largely because the 5G spec hasn’t even been finalized yet.
But T-Mobile says that 5G is going to be about more than speed, which is why it feels comfortable using its 600MHz spectrum — which travels further and penetrates walls better than high-band spectrum, but has a limited capacity for speed — as the primary conduit for its new network:
5G means amazingly fast speeds, sure, but 5G is a whole lot more! 5G will mean lower-latency (that means faster response-times for your applications), massively increased battery life and an exponential leap in the number of connections we can handle simultaneously – and that unlocks all kinds of amazing new applications. It’s about more than just speed.
T-Mobile, like the rest of the industry, can’t rely on low- and mid-band spectrum for 5G; it plans, like Verizon, AT&T and Sprint, to use 28GHz and 39GHz spectrum with small cells, often for fixed 5G broadband applications, to carry much of the capacity burden.
In addition to the 600 MHz band, we have 200 MHz of spectrum in the 28/39 GHz bands covering nearly 100 million people in major metropolitan areas and an impressive volume of mid-band spectrum to deploy 5G in as well. This positions T-Mobile to deliver a 5G network that offers BOTH breadth and depth nationwide.
To its credit, Verizon isn’t making the same marketing push to 5G as T-Mobile because it doesn’t really need to. Both it and AT&T have already pursued regional 5G tests, and Verizon said in a blog post in late April that it didn’t need to purchase any 600MHz spectrum because it has “sufficient spectrum holdings below 1 GHz.”
We are investing in the future. We have access to 28 GHz and 39 GHz spectrum that we will use for 5G. And the fiber we acquired through our XO and Corning transactions are enhancing our current networks with a keen eye toward future needs.
In fact, Verizon has far more 28GHz and 39GHz spectrum per person than any other company in the States, and it has reportedly upped a bid to steal Straight Path, one of the largest holders of mmWave spectrum, from AT&T, which announced in April that it would acquire the company for $1.6 billion.
T-Mobile’s most recent blustery salvo is nothing new, but it does lend credence to the fact that it has longer-term goals around its 600MHz acquistion than just shoring up existing capacity in rural areas for its 4G LTE network. And by taking this opportunity to poke fun — and holes — in AT&T’s ill-fated “fake 5G” network, well, that’s just bonus.