T-Mobile talks up 5G fixed Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) to FCC

In a prepared statement to the FCC intended to buttress the case for the T-Mobile merger with Sprint, current T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert laid out the company’s objectives for “5G” as a home broadband option.

The claim is that this new fixed BWA offers performance better than Verizon and AT&T while being able to realistically compete with cablecos/MSOs like Comcast and Charter (as well as other triple play service providers that offer download speeds in excess of 100Mbps).

Editor’s Note:

Sievert didn’t say what technology and spectrum would be used, or mention that there are no standards for “5G” BWA and that fixed wireless is not even a use case for ITU-R IMT 2020 (real 5G) standard.  IEEE decided not to submit 802.11ax or 802.11ay to ITU-R as proposed 5G BWA standards to complement IMT 2020.

In the absence of a standard, T-Mobile didn’t say what specification they are using for their “5G” BWA and really haven’t said much till now about their roll out plans for that offering.  In August, T-Mobile said it would start deploying mobile 5G in 2019 with 30 cities named.


Sievert explained that most people in the U.S. have few options when it comes to in-home internet and that their choices often include high prices and slow internet speeds. With T-Mobile’s 5G fixed BWA, millions of U.S. households would be offered high speed internet and create a competitive environment that lowers prices.

T-Mobile’s in-home 5G BWA plans include 100Mbps download speeds out of the gate, but would increase those speeds to between 300Mbps and 500Mbps for 200+ million people by 2024.  Sievert wrote in his FCC post:

New T-Mobile’s (merged with Sprint) 5G network will change this competitive dynamic by closing the speed differential between mobile and wired broadband. By combining the resources of TMobile and Sprint, the combined company will create the capacity and coverage to provide in home broadband services. Our business planning has confirmed that there is a large market for New T-Mobile’s in-home broadband offering at the anticipated pricing and service levels. New T-Mobile’s entry into the in-home broadband marketplace will cause incumbent providers to lower their prices and invest in their networks—benefitting all in-home broadband customers.


T-Mobile says that its 5G BWA will only be available in areas where network “capacity exceeds mobile requirements and is sufficient to support the in-home services.” That should mean coverage in at least 52% of US zip codes. T-Mobile says they could have 1.9 million 5G home internet customers by 2021 and 9.5 million by 2024.

T-Mobile also wants to make 5G home internet available without the need for installation of devices by a professional, which would mean eliminating expensive setup costs. Their goal is to allow customers the option to “self-provision the necessary in-home equipment.” That’s the opposite of how Verizon’s new 5G home service works.

T-Mobile 5G home internet will also be available without contracts or strict monthly data caps, according to Sievert.

T-Mobile will cover 64 percent of Charter’s territory and 68 percent of Comcast’s territory with its in-home broadband services by 2024. In addition, New T-Mobile expects to utilize caching and other network optimization techniques to increase the number of households that can be served. In sum, New T-Mobile will have the depth and breadth of network to deliver broadband speeds and capacity to consumers across the country.

New T-Mobile’s in-home wireless broadband offering will provide consumers across the country with average download speeds of 100 Mbps. By 2024, New T-Mobile will be able to cover more than 250 million people with data rates greater than 300 Mbps and more than 200 million people at greater than 500 Mbps.


5G hotspot as an in-home option: Sievert also talked about allowing customers to simply use their mobile 5G plan as their only home internet solution. He explained that “New T-Mobile will also enable consumers to use their mobile services as a substitute for in-home broadband.” My guess is that T-Mobile could have an option within their wireless plans that opens up data caps for higher usage.

Currently,, T-Mobile offers 4G wireless plans that can throttle users after 50GB of data use in a month and also limits hotspot usage in many cases. For a customer to be able to use their mobile 5G plans for home internet, they’d have to remove those caps or offer some sort of tier that expands them.

Summing up, Sievert stated:

The planned service area of New T-Mobile’s broadband services will also dwarf the limited service areas of wired broadband providers. These speeds and coverage areas will be offered at a significant discount to the prices of traditional broadband providers, with monthly prices planned to be generally lower than traditional services


Chris Milla wrote in a related blog post:

T-Mobile knows that rural broadband and broadband competition are two hot-button issues within the FCC right now, so it’s positioning the merger as a magical solution to those problems, without showing how its new claims match up with statements it was making less than a year ago. It’s the same thing that the company has been doing with 5G, and with prepaid wireless during this merger process — saying whatever the FCC wants to hear, with the reality a distant second.

What do you think of this gambit?  Please comment in the box below this article.




7 thoughts on “T-Mobile talks up 5G fixed Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) to FCC

  1. Would you like a pony with that? The claims seem too sweeping. Especially the home install option that implies this can all be achieved with an indoor antenna. A lot of faith is required to assume the T-mobile claims absent any proof of concept data.

  2. Thanks Jim. Note again that T-Mobile has not revealed the technology or the spectrum they would use for their so-called “5G” fixed BWA.

    Previously their CTO Neville Ray played down fixed 5G (BWA) in favor of the company’s 2019 launch of Mobile 5G. In January, the company wrote on its website: “Oh, and Verizon still hasn’t gotten the message that mobile 5G is what matters.” T-Mo also said that “Real 5G is mobile and nationwide,” with no mention of any plans for fixed 5G/BWA.

    Presumably, the merger with Sprint would give the “new T-Mobile” additional spectrum that it could use for fixed “5G,” but they haven’t identified what frequencies might be used for “5G” to the home.

    Is there any other explanation for T-Mo’s reversal (fixed 5G was a foe but now a best friend), especially since the technology to be used has not been disclosed?

  3. Sprint is ready to put its 5G network investments into service whether or not the company’s proposed merger with T-Mobile is approved, said Sprint CEO Michel Combes. Sprint’s dual-mode massive multiple input, multiple output, or MIMO, antennas, along with most of its other equipment, would be put into service for the combined company if the merger goes through, Combes said.


  4. “We’re really trying to change the trajectory of where we’ve been in the past and do some things differently in anticipation of 5G [and] the transaction closing,” said Dave Mayo of T-Mobile. “With respect to fixed wireless, there’s a pretty big dependency on the [Sprint] transaction closing. That’s not to say that we couldn’t do some things in very isolated places from a fixed wireless perspective [on our own], but certainly not something very significant in the grand scheme of things.”

    But Mayo isn’t just sitting around waiting for T-Mobile’s transaction with Sprint to close. “In anticipation of the transaction closing, we want to kind of put the training wheels on and better understand that [fixed wireless] business, so that when the transaction closes, we’re in a position to … really scale that business.”

    However, Mayo declined to provide any specifics on T-Mobile’s current fixed wireless work, including how many engineers might be dedicated to the effort and whether the operator is running tests.

    “Infancy,” Mayo answered, when questioned about the details of his fixed wireless efforts. “I think to say anything beyond infancy would be a major disservice.”

    Over the years, T-Mobile executives have offered a variety of statements on fixed wireless services. Last month, for example, T-Mobile promised to offer in-home, fixed wireless internet services to roughly 9.5 million American households by 2024, or about 13% of the country, if regulators approve the company’s transaction with Sprint. But T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray wrote in September 2016 that “Verizon’s grand vision [for 5G] is that you can cancel your fixed broadband and watch Netflix at home with wireless Verizon broadband. Double yawn. How disappointing! So little imagination from these supposed network leaders!” Ray noted though that fixed wireless is just one of many applications for 5G; Verizon executives have said the same.

    T-Mobile isn’t the only wireless operator eyeing the fixed wireless opportunity. Verizon has said it will offer fixed wireless speeds up to 1 Gbps via its millimeter-wave spectrum. And C Spire, Windstream and others are also deploying various fixed wireless services.


  5. Could anything be more contradictory that broad claims made without any substance, disclosure of the technology to be used or test results to confirm the very optimistic forecast for fixed 5G? Note that fixed 5G is an oxymoron because it has not been defined by any standards organization and there are no fixed 5G standards even being worked on today!

  6. AT&T Opts for 4G-LTE Fixed wireless in 2.3GHz band:

    AT&T said its build-out of fixed wireless internet technology remains on track, and the company is meeting its previously established build-out goals. AT&T ultimately plans to use fixed wireless technology to reach 1.1 million locations in 18 states by 2020.

    AT&T’s comments, in response to questions from FierceWireless, come shortly after one of AT&T’s fixed wireless vendors reported a slower-than-expected rollout of its products with AT&T.

    “In 2015, we promised to make high-speed internet available to more than 1.1 million homes and small businesses in hard to reach locations across 18 states,” wrote an AT&T representative in response to questions from FierceWireless. “In June 2017 we committed to meeting 40% of our goal that year, and in January 2018 we announced that we met that commitment, bringing high-speed internet availability to 440,000 homes and small business locations, many that previously lacked internet availability entirely.”

    AT&T said it is currently using standards-based LTE equipment in its WCS Band 30 (2.3 GHz) spectrum for its fixed wireless services, though the company has acknowledged it may also supplement that spectrum with 3.5 GHz CBRS spectrum when that band becomes available. (Interestingly, the company also said its fixed wireless signals can reach up to 20 miles if the conditions are right.)

    AT&T added that it’s using multiple vendors for the build-out, but it didn’t disclose the identities of those vendors. AT&T’s Wayne Purboo, the carrier’s senior vice president of mobility and entertainment, is leading the build-out.


  7. Bloomberg: Making Case for T-Mobile Deal, Sprint Says Its Customers Are Fleeing

    Sprint Corp. is unable to recover from crippling losses and has told regulators its purchase by T-Mobile US Inc. would set up a stronger competitor to wireless leaders AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc.

    Customers are fleeing the smallest of the big four U.S. nationwide providers at an increasing rate, Sprint told the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in a Sept. 21 meeting, according to a filing posted Wednesday on the agency’s website.

    Revenue is dropping and the company can’t cut much more after eliminating about $10 billion in annual costs. The decline means Sprint can’t afford needed investments, according to the FCC filing.

    T-Mobile’s purchase of Sprint would therefore result in a company more prepared to compete with AT&T and Verizon, Sprint said, although the carrier did paint a much brighter picture for Wall Street when it posted its quarterly results in August.


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