T-Mobile continues using Sprint's 2.5GHz spectrum for its triple-layer 5G network
When T-Mobile announced that it was going to merge with Sprint in a $26.5 billion deal on April 29, 2018, many wondered why a carrier on the rise like T-Mobile would be interested in a carrier that was on the way down-like Sprint. But those who knew what Sprint had knew that the main reason for doing the deal had nothing to do with combining both firm's wireless operations.
T-Mobile continues integrating Sprint's mid-band spectrum as it continues to build out its triple layer cake 5G
The real reason why T-Mobile wanted Sprint was to get its hands on the latter's 2.5GHz mid-band spectrum which was needed to create the triple-layer cake 5G service that could end up making T-Mobile the King of 5G in the states. The low-band 600MHz spectrum is the bottom layer of the cake and delivers coast-to-coast 5G coverage at download speeds not much faster than 4G LTE.
The high-band mmWave signals do not carry far at all which is why the top layer of the cake is going to take so long to complete. However, this is the spectrum that delivers the fast download data speeds that consumers think of when they think of 5G. And in the middle is the all-important mid-band that travels farther than high-band and provides faster download speeds than low-band.
T-Mobile continues to take advantage of the mid-band spectrum it acquired from Sprint
Mid-band is the important connection between low and high-band 5G and there was not too much of it available leading T-Mobile to throw the dice on the merger. Now a bit over a year since the merger was approved, T-Mobile CFO Peter Osvaldik says that things are going good even with the pandemic. And the FCC has auctioned mid-band spectrum in the C-band that Verizon and AT&T were forced to bid big bucks on.
T-Mobile is focused on delivering the best experiences to its customers
According to Fierce Wireless, at the Credit Suisse investor conference on Tuesday, T-Mobile's Osvaldik said that the carrier is focusing on three things: building the best 5G network in the world, taking advantage of the cost synergies created by the merger, and delivering the best experiences to its customers.
The CFO says, "We’re running hard and fast." To unlock synergies from the network, the first move is to deploy the Sprint spectrum on the T-Mobile anchor network and then migrate the Sprint customers onto the T-Mobile network. T-Mobile's goal is to have 60% of Sprint traffic migrated onto the T-Mobile pipeline by the end of this year and have them fully migrated by the middle of next year.
T-Mobile made things easy by following the game plan it used in the acquisition of MetroPCS. Additionally, it had given Sprint subscribers compatible handsets to use that allowed them to connect to the T-Mobile network as soon as the merger closed. And the process has already started on the closing of 7,000-8,000 Sprint cell sites scheduled to be shut down by the end of this year.
By the end of 2024, all of the cell sites scheduled to be decommissioned will be shut giving T-Mobile the opportunity to take advantage of the money it will save by closing the remainder of Sprint's cell sites. But it appears that all of the major wireless providers believe that they are setting the pace in 5G. For example, Verizon CFO Matt Ellis said at the Credit Suisse investor conference that "it’s no secret that everyone else is … targeting our network," and "we consistently outperform."
AT&T CFO Pascal Desroches stated during the conference that AT&T’s network "has never been better." Meanwhile, T-Mobile's Osvaldik said that consumers see 5G as an opportunity to switch carriers and that they see T-Mobile as the "dominant" brand in 5G. He adds that T-Mobile still leads the industry "from a profitable growth perspective in net adds."
T-Mobile executives who once complained that it was lagging behind on 4G coverage are now happy to see that coverage get filled in with LTE and with 5G as well.