With 5G and Sprint, T-Mobile vows cheaper wireless service than ever
CEO John Legere and President Mike Sievert say Sprint will supercharge its 5G efforts.
Roger ChengFormer Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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SABEW Best in Business 2011 Award for Breaking News Coverage, Eddie Award in 2020 for 5G coverage, runner-up National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award for culture analysis.
The next-generation of wireless technology, known as 5G, is poised to change our lives. Once it actually gets here.
But how will 5G look and work when it does?
is aiming for broad coverage and has committed to building a nationwide 5G network by 2020.
"Our view is 5G should be everywhere," President and Chief Operating Officer Mike Sievert said in an interview last week. The company aims to make speeds of 100 megabits a second or faster available to 90 percent of Americans. By 2024, customers will see average speeds jump 15 times over current speeds. That means average speeds of 450 Mbps, with some areas exceeding 4 Gbps.
Watch this: T-Mobile wants to expand coverage and lower prices with 5G
T-Mobile has talked about using multiple bands of spectrum, from lower-frequency airwaves, for covering wider parts of the country, to high-frequency airwaves, known as millimeter-wave spectrum, to deliver insanely high speeds. Sievert and CEO John Legere knocked competitors Verizon and AT&T for sticking with the millimeter-wave spectrum, which has the capacity for extremely high speeds but can't cover broad distances.
A Verizon spokesman maintains that the company's goal is to launch 5G first. "We're confident in our approach," he said.
Earlier this month, Brian Higgins, vice president of device and product marketing at Verizon, said in an interview that T-Mobile's strategy meant less consistent speeds, and not the kind of 5G experience customers are expecting.
Verizon, however, has been less specific about its mobile 5G plans, focusing instead on 5G as a broadband replacement service in four cities. It says it will be first to 5G by virtue of its fixed mobile service.
An AT&T spokeswoman noted that the trials using millimeter wave spectrum have been more successful than expected, and that the company plans to use different bands for 5G..
"This country needs something different with 5G, something we can't do alone," Legere said in an interview.
Legere is referring to the spectrum that Sprint owns, which is being deployed on its own. In addition, he said that T-Mobile intends to participate in upcoming government auctions for more spectrum.
Critics of the merger between Sprint and T-Mobile worry that reducing the number of national players from four to three will ease the competitive pressure and lead to higher prices.
But assuming the merger is completed early next year, T-Mobile would put those airwaves to work on its own 5G ambitions, which Sievert said should boost the company's capacity and lower its cost of operation.
"With that kind of capacity, we'll be able to afford to give Americans network service and wireless service at lower prices than we've ever seen before," he said.
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