T-Mobile will continue to focus on its 5G network before starting Sprint's shutdown 'in earnest'
Even though Sprint's death has been in the works for nearly three years now after a T-Mobile takeover proposal announced all the way back in April 2018, the nation's fourth-largest mobile network operator is still stuck in the purgatory stage of its lengthy and somewhat convoluted extinction process.
While the $26 billion mega-merger between the US wireless industry's number three and four players officially closed more than six months ago, almost instantly giving birth to a 5G juggernaut of unimaginable proportions, T-Mo has a long way to go before migrating each and every existing Sprint customer to a unified network that's already bigger and better than what Verizon and AT&T currently operate.
A multi-year undertaking that's not even truly underway yet
According to Mike Sievert, who succeeded John Legere as CEO when the creation of a "New T-Mobile" was finalized, Sprint's shutdown will only begin "in earnest" in 2022, despite "some" network termination efforts having taken place on an "isolated basis" earlier this year.
The "Now Network's" mid-band 5G spectrum, for instance, was switched off and then quickly redeployed as part of Magenta's extensive 5G infrastructure, which Big Red is struggling to catch up to. Many Sprint stores were also closed and rebranded starting in July, but that actually has nothing to do with the network shutdown endeavor.
Besides, Sprint's brand is still alive and well at retailers like Best Buy, although T-Mobile's goal (both in the short and long term) is naturally to bring as many wireless subscribers as possible under its name.
In order to do that, of course, it's better not to rush what analysts are describing as probably the biggest network shutdown project in recent wireless history. We're talking the migration of around 50 million people in total, the vast majority of which didn't have access to Sprint's mid-band 5G signal prior to T-Mobile's acquisition.
The nation's greatest 5G network will get even better by the time Sprint disappears
Obviously, the number two US carrier right now will try its best to retain that entire customer base, offering various sweet incentives for early switches and continuing to improve and expand a remarkable mid-band 5G network that should cover a whopping 100 million people by the end of this year alone with a blazing fast signal travelling much further than Verizon's Ultra Wideband technology, for example.
That already impressive figure is expected to grow to no less than 200 million by the end of 2021, mind you, and that's only as far as mid-band 5G coverage is concerned. As you may know after being bombarded by increasingly elaborate advertising campaigns in recent months, T-Mobile's 5G rollout strategy is composed of three different "layers."
While the middle layer of the "Un-carrier's" deliciously intricate cake is arguably the most important component, striking a nearly perfect balance between speed and availability, the low-band foundation is needed to (eventually) blanket the entire country with slightly slower 5G service, while the top high-band (or mmWave) layer is in charge of taking those download numbers to new and previously unimaginable heights in small parts of major cities.
By 2022 or even 2023, when all of Sprint's current subscribers willing to stay with T-Mobile will get a chance to do so without making any real effort, the three-layer 5G network is likely to include massive upgrades at every level compared to today's situation. We're talking unrivaled rural coverage, even higher mid-band speeds, and almost certainly, significantly more mmWave spectrum deployed to challenge Verizon's Ultra Wideband connectivity.
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