C-Band auction winnings not enough for AT&T, Verizon to catch T-Mobile on mid-band 5G
Despite the more than $80 billion its competitors AT&T and Verizon dropped in the recently-wrapped C-Band auction, T-Mobile’s pace of 2.5 GHz deployment, and sheer breadth of spectrum holdings, sets the operator up for long-term 5G success, T-Mobile US Vice President of Technology Neville Ray said at a recent conference.
Speaking at the MoffettNathanson’s 8th Annual Media and Communications Summit on May 13, Ray said, “This time to market thing is important and the company that steps out first with the next generation of technology in a meaningful and powerful way, if you look at history, that’s the company that leads the segment in the era. We look at this 5G lead that we set out upon…as a durable lead, one that we can sustain and maintain throughout this 5G era…We’re the leader in 5G.”
T-Mo acquired wide and deep 2.5 GHz spectrum with its acquisition of Sprint. By the numbers, Ray said mid-band 5G will cover 200 million Americans by year-end, “maybe earlier,” with 300 Mbps-plus downlink speeds. “This is the kind of the 5G story that’s going to be ubiquitous, broad coverage, great capability, really fast 5G service, that’s going to bring that wave of innovation and new experiences as we saw happen with LTE.”
Ray said the plan is cover 250 million Americans with mid-band 5G by the end of 2022 toward an ultimate goal of covering 92% to 93% of people in the U.S. In regard to AT&T and Verizon’s C-Band spectrum, Ray said the timeline of availability and channel sizes can’t compete with T-Mobile’s mature roll out and 100 megahertz deployment target.
T-Mobile has also recently discussed its ambitions to double its enterprise market share from less than 10% over the next five years. Ray noted that many large enterprises will conduct their own network testing as part of the sales process, which plays to T-Mobile’s strengths. “They take this connectivity issue incredibly seriously for their companies and employees, so they go out and do a lot of their own testing. The great news is when they do that, we more often than not, we win…They’re starting to understand actually, you know, it’s T-Mobile’s time.”