CEO Mike Sievert trumpets milestone as ahead of schedule
T-Mobile US announced Monday that it has expanded the reach of its Standalone (SA) 5G network to reach 200 million people nationwide. T-Mobile remains the only nationwide U.S. carrier to offer standalone 5G, which it has branded “Ultra Capacity 5G.”
T-Mobile US CEO Mike Sievert took to Twitter to share the news, and said that the deployment is about six weeks ahead of plan.
T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint in 2019 led the way for T-Mobile to use Sprint’s licensed 2.5 GHz spectrum and previously licensed 600MHz spectrum to roll out its standalone 5G network in 2019. By the summer of 2020, T-Mobile claimed to deploy the world’s first nationwide 5G SA network.
Standing alone with Standalone 5G and more
T-Mobile said spectrum reallocation has given it a leg up on competitors Verizon and AT&T, which have banked on mmWave to build out parts of their 5G networks, with 3.5 GHz deployments still a tomorrow plan, not a today plan.
“Verizon and AT&T’s faster 5G is limited to parts of stadiums and outdoor areas. But they eventually caught on and spent record-breaking amounts on C-band spectrum (3.7 GHz – 3.98 GHz) that they still aren’t delivering to customers,” said T-Mobile.
For T-Mobile US President of Technology Neville Ray, AT&T and Verizon’s 5G buildouts is in his company’s rearview mirror. Speaking in May at MoffettNathanson’s 8th Annual Media & Communications Summit, Ray described T-Mobile’s 5G lead as “a durable lead, one that we can sustain and maintain.” T-Mobile’s objective is blanket 5G SA coverage for 92-93 percent of the U.S. population by the end of 2022.
5G network differentiation is the latest alphabet soup to be served up to 5G consumers in the United States: T-Mobile’s “5G Ultra Capacity” appears as such on select newer 5G-capable phones. AT&T’s customers with mmWave-capable devices see better speed with “5G Plus.” And Verizon calls its mmWave 5G service “5G Ultra Wideband.”
Sprint’s spectrum has been a home run for T-Mobile’s standalone 5G efforts. Getting Sprint customers over to T-Mobile products and services remains a challenge for Sievert, but he sees massive potential upside.
Sievert told investors that churn rates for Sprint’s old customers remains high — but once they get to T-Mobile, they’re happier. He predicted a windfall to come as more of Sprint’s old customers buy 5G handsets and move to the company’s Magenta and Max plans.
“And we know from what we’re observing that when we get them to the other side, there’s a fantastic tailwind ahead for our company and our investors,” said Sievert.