Kagan: Rural wireless next focus of Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile US

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Wireless carriers like Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile have seen growth in urban areas and cities for many years. Rural America has not been the primary focus, but that is starting to change. Going forward it looks like all three carriers are starting to widen their focus to rural America as well as urban cities and suburbs.

The big wireless networks say they provide service to more than 95% of Americans. While that is true, that does not mean their networks cover 95% of America. What it means is they cover cities, highways and more in mostly urban America.

Profitability kept Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile in urban cities first

Rural America is completely different compared to suburban and urban city life. In rural areas, people live far apart from each other. And that was always the reason this area was not the focus early on.

Profitability means networks needed to focus where the customers are, cities. Going forward it looks like rural areas are also going to be center stage as well and this is brand new.

Typically, rural America has wireless, just not the more advanced wireless that is in cities and urban areas.

Today, while 5G is rolling out in larger cities across the country, 4G is doing the same thing in rural areas. This is the way it has always been. Cities first, then rural areas.

Why 5G wireless is coming quickly to rural America

As the networks begin to turn off their 3G connections, 4G and 5G are now the kings of the hill. Typically, 5G would roll out in cities and urban areas as 4G rolls out in the country.

This time things will be different. This new focus on rural America means people in smaller towns across the country should start to see 5G sooner than expected.

While it will continue its rollout in rural areas, 4G is pretty much everywhere already. So, even though 5G is still rolling out in urban cities, it will also start rolling out in rural areas.

The U.S. Government has been subsidizing much of the growth in rural America. In recent years, this has been the focus of many smaller wireless companies. Going forward, this will also be the focus of larger carriers.

T-Mobile consumer VP Jon Freier in charge of rural expansion

At a recent investor event, T-Mobile VP of their consumer side, Jon Freier, said rural is a big opportunity for the company. He said the opportunity is bringing new services to rural areas that they have not seen yet.

The T-Mobile acquisition of Sprint is helping them with this expansion. Moving into rural America was a promise T-Mobile made to get the Sprint deal done.

CTIA says they believe every American community should have access to the connectivity of wireless networks and the apps, services and platforms these connections enable.

CTIA says rural 5G wireless is important

They say the first 4G network rolled out in the USA in 2010 and today, these high-speed mobile networks cover 99.7 percent of all Americans in urban and rural areas alike.

So, now it’s time to start focusing on rolling out 5G to those areas.

Plus, T-Mobile made a promise to also focus on rural America in order to get their Sprint merger approved.

That sounded great at the time. However, the industry keeps moving forward. Today, since 4G is almost everywhere, all three wireless carriers are widening their 5G focus to include urban and rural America.

That’s exactly what Jon Freier says T-Mobile is doing now. So, they now have to focus on both the urban and rural opportunities.

This is something the wireless industry has never done before.

This is the same opportunity every wireless carrier face, AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. So, now is the time all three will expand their focus.

Expect Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile to expand to rural 5G wireless

Competition and the risk of losing to a competitor is a strong motivator. There are always two directions every company must focus on.

One is growth and leadership. Two is keeping up with the competition. These are diametrically opposed but have the same benefit. It helps each competitor stay up to speed and lead, and it helps every customer, business or consumer.

That means Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile will all increase their focus on this rural area. No carrier will let another carrier move ahead.

That’s good news for every user across the United States. Since every wireless carrier is moving in this same direction, no one carrier has an advantage.

So far, I like what I am seeing and hearing. The race is beginning so let’s keep our eyes open going forward and see how each carrier performs.

About Author

Jeff is a RCR Wireless News Columnist, Industry Analyst, Key Opinion Leader and Influencer. He shares his colorful perspectives and opinions on the companies and technologies that are transforming the industry he has followed for 35 years. Jeff follows wireless, wire line telecom, Internet, Pay-TV, cable TV, AI, IoT, Digital Healthcare, Cloud, Mobile Pay, Smart cities, Smart Homes and more.

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