T-Mobile shutters Sprint’s 5G network; OpenSignal 5G User Experience report highlights
As expected following the April 1st close of T-Mobile’s acquisition, Sprint’s 5G network (which uses 2.5GHz mid-band spectrum) has been deactivated while the “new T-Mobile” works to re-deploy it across its own network.
The integration of the Sprint mid-band spectrum is a key part of T-Mobile’s 5G strategy, which aims to combine low-band 600MHz spectrum for broad, nationwide 5G coverage with faster but lower-range midband (Sprint’s 2.5GHz network) and short-range mmWave networks for a balance of coverage and speed.
T-Mobile has already deployed its new 2.5GHz spectrum in New York, the first market to benefit from the wireless network operator’s spectrum in low-, mid-, and millimeter wave bands. The operator’s 2.5GHz 5G is also live in “parts” of Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia.
Most existing Sprint customers won’t be able to use their current devices going forward to access 5G. Newer devices that feature Qualcomm’s X55 modem, like the Galaxy S20 5G lineup, will still be able to access the 2.5GHz 5G when they relaunch as part of the new T-Mobile’s 5G network (along with the rest of T-Mobile’s low-band and mmWave 5G spectrum). T-Mobile is offering credits for affected customers to lease a new 5G device.
“We are working to quickly re-deploy, optimize and test the 2.5 GHz spectrum before lighting it up on the T-Mobile network. In the meantime, legacy Sprint customers with compatible devices can enjoy T-Mobile’s nationwide 5G network,” a T-Mobile spokesperson said.
According to data from a new Opensignal 5G User Experience report, customers using T-Mobile’s mid-band 5G are benefitting from average download speeds of around 330Mbps. The mobile analytics company ranks T-Mobile first for 5G availability; with customers receiving a 5G signal around twice as often as AT&T and 56 times more than Verizon.
T-Mobile’s press release about the Opensignal report said customers are seeing average download speeds of 330 Mbps on its mid-band 2.5 GHz network.
From that OpenSignal report:
T-Mobile wins the 5G Availability award, as its 5G users spend 22.5% of time connected to 5G:
The time connected to a 5G service is extremely important if users are to enjoy all of 5G’s benefits. In the U.S., T-Mobile won the 5G Availability award by a large margin with Sprint and AT&T trailing with scores of 14.1% and 10.3%, respectively. Verizon users saw their extremely fast 5G service 0.4% of the time because of the limited geographical reach of the mmWave wireless technology Verizon currently relies upon for 5G and the early stage of the 5G deployment.
Sprint’s 5G users’ experience is already changing as new T-Mobile combines its network capabilities:
When we previously looked at the 5G Download Speed of Sprint’s users some time ago we saw average 5G speeds of 114.2 Mbps reflecting the mid-band 5G wireless spectrum Sprint relied upon. But following the completion of T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint, the new T-Mobile is starting to provide Sprint 5G users with access to old T-Mobile’s 600MHz spectrum and so average 5G speeds are now 49.5 Mbps but 5G Availability has risen from 10.3% to 14.1% of time. T-Mobile is still in the process of merging its original network with Sprint and we expect the mobile network experience of Sprint users will continue to change for some time.
“Building the fastest 5G network is easy if you only cover less than 50 square miles. Opensignal’s report shows that only T-Mobile is doing the hard work to deliver BOTH 5G coverage and speed. And we’re just getting started,” said Neville Ray, President of Technology at T-Mobile.
“With the addition of Sprint, the Un-carrier’s 5G is getting bigger, better and faster every day, moving quickly on our mission to build the world’s best 5G network, one unlike any other, to people all across the country!”
T-Mobile and Sprint were finally cleared to merge on April 1st, following discussions which began in 2013.
To appease regulators, T-Mobile agreed to sell Sprint’s prepaid business, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile to Dish network for $1.4 billion. The deal also included selling Sprint’s entire 800 MHz portfolio of spectrum to Dish. Those deals formally completed yesterday.
Last month, T-Mobile asked California’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to ease other conditions it agreed to in order for the merger to be granted – including job creation promises following the COVID-19 pandemic, average 5G coverage and speed commitments, and to remove a “burdensome” third independent test of its network.
T-Mobile switches off Sprint’s 5G network following $26.5 billion merger
4 thoughts on “T-Mobile shutters Sprint’s 5G network; OpenSignal 5G User Experience report highlights”
This article on T-Mo and 5G user experiences is a very good. especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Very precise info! Appreciate your sharing this must read post!
Good article. There have been so many rumors about the merger of these two US telcos. However, according to a consumer website, they didn’t offer a lot of new job opportunities.
“Sprint ranks 326 of 1676 in Telecommunications category. The overall rating of the company is 1.6 and consumers are mostly dissatisfied.”
Hello Hanry and thanks for your comment. Whenever two large companies merge, redundancies in plant and personnel are eliminated. That results in layoffs rather than new hiring. In addition, the new T-Mo is shuttering Sprint’s CDMA network at the end of the year, forcing all those customers to get new SIM cards or new phones with GSM built in.
A recent Light Reading article, ‘Big 20’ telcos have cut 230K jobs, 12% of total, in five years states:
Since 2018, when it finalized its $85 billion takeover of Time Warner, AT&T has shrunk its organization by nearly 37,500 employees. Following its ill-fated, $4.5 billion purchase of Yahoo in 2017, Verizon has cut its headcount by more than 23,000 people.
Of the 20 that Light Reading monitors regularly, only two – Canada’s Telus and the UK’s Vodafone – grew their payrolls last year. The net reduction across all 20 was about 55,000 jobs, making it the worst year since 2016 for telecom-sector employees.
In five years, some 230,000 jobs have disappeared, meaning the combined workforce is 12% smaller than it was in 2015.
Headcount has been steadily eroding as operators have sold assets, pooled resources and made the pursuit of efficiency their number-one priority. Automation alone appears responsible for thousands of job losses, allowing companies to run operations with far fewer people.
The jobs trend stems largely from the industry’s financial plight. Despite investing heavily in 5G and other capital-intensive projects, telecom operators have struggled to generate any meaningful sales growth for years.
There is definitely more to come……Still, much of the pruning in recent years has come as operators have removed duplicate roles following takeover activity, or simply divested assets.
The sale of a business unit does not destroy jobs unless the buyer subsequently makes cuts. In the case of Norway’s Telenor, for example, about 8,000 jobs have disappeared from the payroll since 2017 because units were sold in central Europe and Pakistan. Similarly, Vodafone’s deconsolidation of its Indian business explains most of the headcount drop in 2019, when it dispensed with nearly 4,000 employees.
The attrition has been even worse at some European operators. Outside the US, Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile’s main parent, has cut nearly 24,000 full-time jobs since 2015, nearly 14% of the total.
Spain’s Telefónica has shed a similar number of jobs over the same period, meaning its workforce is 18% smaller. At Telecom Italia, more than one in five jobs has vanished. And as for Telenor, its cocktail of automation and divestment has lightened it by 20,000 employees since 2015, more than half that year’s total.
T-Mobile previously disclosed it will shutter Sprint’s 3G CDMA network on January 1, 2022. That has caused some controversy following Dish Network’s request that T-Mobile maintain the network through a portion of next year – a request that T-Mobile has denied. An unspecified portion of Dish’s Boost Mobile customers still rely on Sprint’s CDMA network.
The overall Sprint network shutdown efforts are part of T-Mobile’s plan to assimilate Sprint following its blockbuster $26 billion purchase of the operator in a transaction that closed last year. T-Mobile is in the process of building a 5G network using Sprint’s spectrum and tower assets and is working to shift Sprint’s legacy customers off the Sprint network as a result.
Already, T-Mobile said it has managed to move about 33% of its Sprint customers onto its T-Mobile network.
“Moving customers who are on old networks onto modern, advanced high-speed networks means they will need to have phones and devices that can tap into the latest technologies and don’t rely on older ones. We’ll ensure that we support our customers and partners through the transition. We began sending notifications late last year, and everyone who needs to act will be given advanced notice and hear directly from T-Mobile,” the operator wrote on its website.
Interestingly, T-Mobile has no plans to turn off its own 2G network. “We’ve also shared that we plan to retire T-Mobile’s older GSM 2G and UMTS 3G networks as well, but no date has been set. We will update this page with any additional information in the future,” the operator wrote.
Of course, T-Mobile isn’t the only wireless provider working to shutter older networks in order to devote more resources to newer and more capable networking technologies. For example, AT&T plans to shut down its 3G network early next year, while Verizon now plans to shutter its 3G network at the beginning of 2023.
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