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T-Mobile doubles 2.5 GHz 5G reach, takes it to cable with FWA and streaming service

TVision streaming service builds on LTE-based home internet service

In recent months, T-Mobile executives have pegged the number of radio sites their crews are touching as upward of 700 per week in their effort to put the 2.5 GHz spectrum that came with the Sprint merger to work for 5G. To paraphrase Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (and Mavenir’s John Baker), the proof is in the eating and, according to T-Mo, subscribers in nearly double the number of towns as cities as were available a month ago can now serve themselves with mid-band 5G.

T-Mobile has a nationwide standalone 5G network in place that taps its 600 MHz spectrum. The company is augmenting the low-band coverage with a mid-band layer of 2.5 GHz and on Oct. 28 announced that mid-band 5G now reaches some 410 towns and cities. Users can expect average download speeds in the 300 Mbps range with peak speeds “up to” 1 Gbps, according to the operator.

Vice President of Technology Neville Ray said in a statement that 2.5 GHz 5G gives it an edge over AT&T and Verizon offerings which use millimeter wave and and software-controlled sharing of low-band frequencies between LTE and 5G. “T-Mobile is the only one with big swaths of mid-band dedicated to 5G,” Ray said in a statement. “T-Mobile has more mid-band spectrum than anyone else. We’re the only ones building a transformational 5G network built on dedicated—not shared—airwaves. And that means only T-mobile is capable of making the world’s best 5G network a reality.”

While AT&T does offer 5G in cleared 850 MHz spectrum in some markets, the bulk of its nationwide coverage depends on Dynamic Spectrum Sharing; ditto for Verizon, which turned up nationwide 5G using DSS in tandem with the Oct. 13 launch of Apple’s 5G-compatible iPhone 12 lineup. Ray is referring to DSS with his shared airwaves comment. He and company CEO Mike Sievert have dinged DSS somewhat regularly as, unlike their primary competitors, T-Mobile’s spectrum portfolio is such that they don’t need to use it.

T-Mobile ups it fight against cable companies

For some time T-Mobile has discussed leveraging its cellular network to compete against cable companies which are, conversely, trying to compete with wireless operators through MVNO and other cellular models. In the latest, T-Mobile is expanding on a pilot project, by opening up an LTE-backed fixed wireless access home internet service to some 20 million households.

The home internet service costs $50 per month with autopay and uses an LTE Wi-Fi Gateway device. With the expansion, 450 towns and cities are covered with availability on a first-come, first-served, equipment- and capacity-availability basis. There’s something of a focus on serving rural areas like in Alabama, Arkansas—I do love my ma and pa—Iowa and Kentucky. A full list of service areas is available here. 

TVision T-Mobile
Image courtesy of T-Mobile.

On the streaming front, T-Mobile’s latest Un-carrier announcement came this week with the introduction of TVision LIVE, meant to further position T-Mo as an alternative to the “cableopoly,” as Sievert put it. Cable companies “[hold] TV fans hostage, bundling live news and sports into expensive packages with hundreds of other channels that people don’t want, and don’t watch. People are ready for real choice and real change in home TV, maybe this year more than ever before.”

T-Mobile TVision HUB
Image courtesy of T-Mobile.

TVision LIVE uses the TVision HUB HDMI plug-in device and has three primary iterations:

  • TVision Live TV offers 30-plus channels, including sports and news, for $40 per month.
  • TVision Live TV+ adds 10 more channels, including regional sports, for $50 per month.
  • TVision Live Zone adds in 10 more channels, including pro sports networks, for $60 per month.

Add-on options are TVision VIBE which offers some 30 channels featuring “comedy, lifestyle and drama,” as well as on demand content; that goes for an extra $10 per month. TVision CHANNELS is an “a-la-carte” model that lets users pick premium channels like Starz, Showtime and Epix.

Editor’s note: Starz has surprisingly good shows, including the J.K. Simmons-led Counterpart which, despite only airing for two seasons, is among the best sci-fi/thriller series of the past decade. Fight me. 




Sean Kinney, Editor in Chief
Sean Kinney, Editor in Chief
Sean focuses on multiple subject areas including 5G, Open RAN, hybrid cloud, edge computing, and Industry 4.0. He also hosts Arden Media's podcast Will 5G Change the World? Prior to his work at RCR, Sean studied journalism and literature at the University of Mississippi then spent six years based in Key West, Florida, working as a reporter for the Miami Herald Media Company. He currently lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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