T-Mobile CEO Legere announces the carrier's plan to build a nationwide 5G network
The Pied Piper of the mobile industry is at it again, as T-Mobile CEO John Legere made one of the biggest announcements of his career to date. Today, T-Mobile became the first U.S. carrier to announce plans for a nationwide 5G network. The nation's third largest carrier will use some of the 600MHz spectrum it won during the FCC auction, to carry 5G traffic from one U.S. coast to the other. It also plans on using some of the low-frequency spectrum to enhance, improve and expand its 4G LTE network.
T--Mobile spent $7.9 billion on the auction, outspending the competition, and ending up with 45% of the airwaves that were successfully auctioned off. Low frequency spectrum is considered more desirable than high-frequency airwaves since they travel farther and penetrate buildings better. As T-Mobile's Chief Technical Officer Neville Ray pointed out today, 5G service will require both low and high frequency spectrum. The low end will be handily covered for T-Mobile thanks to the haul of 600MHz spectrum it just picked up.
The high end will require the use of high-frequency millimeter wave spectrum which doesn't travel far at all. With carriers' trying to accumulate millimeter wave airwaves, we might see more M&A fights such as the one that is taking place with Straight Path. AT&T and a mystery bidder rumored to be Verizon are offering over $1 billion for the company, which was worth a third of that figure just two weeks ago. Straight Path has holdings of prime 28 GHz and 39 GHz millimeter wave spectrum.
Last weekend, Verizon Chief Network Officer Nicola Palmer wrote on Big Red's blog why Verizon did not participate in the FCC auction. At the same time, she took a shot at T-Mobile by saying that the latter desperately needs the 600MHz spectrum it won so that it could play catch up to Verizon. Well, you knew that John Legere was not going to take that sitting down.
In the video that you'll find at the top of this story, Legere mentions that AT&T's network speed has dropped 4% since launching its new unlimited plan, and Verizon's network speed has declined by 14% thanks to its new Verizon Unlimited service. More traffic means congested towers and slower speeds. He also called out AT&T for its 5G Evolution that was launched in eight cities last week. Since 5G standards have not been finalized, AT&T's offering really had nothing to do with 5G. According to Legere, AT&T subscribers in the eight 5G Evolution markets will receive 4G service at twice AT&T's usual speed, based on technology that T-Mobile deployed in 2016. As for Verizon, Legere called Palmer's blog post about the auction "defensive."
Talking about what the future might bring with 5G, Legere says that we can't even begin to imagine what is coming. And speaking of the future, Legere says that unlike his rivals, T-Mobile is making no promises about delivering 5G next year. He points out (as we did earlier in the story) that 5G standards are still being written and that it might take two to three years for 5G to arrive. When it does, Legere vows that "T-Mobile will be at the forefront of unlocking the 5G future for everyone."