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T-Mobile CEO: A 5G iPhone would be 'a dream'

T-Mobile is ready if Apple were to release a 5G iPhone this year. But new CEO Mike Sievert offered a ton of caveats.


T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert


When it comes to the next batch of iPhones, rumors have strongly suggested that Apple's next devices will have 5G when they arrive later this year. While T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert couldn't say if the carrier would have a 5G iPhone, he told CNET's The Daily Charge podcast that such a device would be "a dream of ours." 

Sievert, who took over from John Legere in May, said he couldn't speculate on if there is a new 5G iPhone in the works ("According to my contract with Apple, I'm not allowed to comment on whether there would ever be another iPhone ever"), the T-Mobile CEO says he "sure hopes we'll see 5G on iPhones." 

"That'll really complete the picture. And so a dream of ours would be 'wouldn't it be awesome if we exited this year with substantially all the flagship devices being compatible, not just with 5G, but with our particular approach to 5G.'" 

T-Mobile is the only carrier to offer all three flavors of 5G, known as low-band, midband and millimeter-wave. Low-band is the foundation for T-Mobile's current nationwide 5G network, offering wide coverage but not significant speed improvements compared to 4G LTE. The carrier also has millimeter-wave 5G available in parts of a handful of cities, that offers much higher speeds but significantly limited range often limited to outdoors and on select city blocks. 

Read more: Why you should care about 5G

With its purchase of Sprint complete, the carrier has begun deploying 5G over midband, wireless airwaves that allow for significantly faster speeds compared to 4G LTE and low-band 5G while providing a much better range than millimeter-wave and the ability to work indoors. Mid-band, which offers a nice compromise between the other two extremes, is what's used in a lot of the other 5G networks deployed around the world. 

T-Mobile has midband 5G available in parts of Philadelphia, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston. Sievert touted that the company was "ahead of schedule," but didn't offer any specific targets for how many cities he expects to cover by the end of the year. 

Rival AT&T's main 5G network runs primarily over its low-band spectrum and is available in 355 markets with plans to expand nationwide this summer. It also has a millimeter-wave (or what it calls "5G Plus") network available in parts of 35 cities. 

Verizon, meanwhile, currently only offers millimeter-wave 5G in parts of 35 cities. It plans to expand that number to 60 cities in 2020 as well as launch a nationwide low-band network later this year. 

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A recent report from Ookla stated that T-Mobile had almost 20 times more 5G cities than AT&T and Verizon, while a recent OpenSignal report found that T-Mobile users with a compatible device were able to connect to its 5G network nearly 23% of the time.

When asked about 5G adoption, Sievert says that when it comes to Android, the carrier is making progress.

"On the Android side, it's coming along pretty well because most of the mainstream flagship devices have had it for a few months," he told CNET's Roger Cheng. "And they've had it in ways that are compatible with our technology."

"That's why," he says, "you're seeing 23% of users with a compatible handset already experiencing 5G the way we designed it on our network."