Justice Dept approves the “New T-Mobile” via Sprint merger; Dish Network becomes 4th U.S. wireless carrier with focus on 5G

The Justice Department approved T-Mobile US Inc. ’s merger with Sprint Corp. after the companies agreed to create a new wireless carrier by selling assets to satellite-TV provider Dish Network Corp.  The federal approval for T-Mobile and Sprint caps a more than yearlong review of a combination that fell apart twice in the past five years over terms of the deal or fears that the Justice Department would object.

The landmark antitrust agreement seeks to address concerns that the combination of T-Mobile, the nation’s No. 3 carrier by subscribers, and No. 4 Sprint will drive up prices for consumers. It would leave more than 95% of American cellphone customers with the top three U.S. operators.

A deal brokered by the Justice Department will require Dish, which has been sitting on valuable airwaves, to build a 5G network for cellphone customers. To help it get started, T-Mobile will sell Sprint’s prepaid brands to Dish and give access to its network for seven years.

“The remedies set up Dish as a disruptive force in wireless” with the pieces needed for the company to have a cellphone service that is ready to go, Makan Delrahim, the Justice Department’s antitrust chief, said in a news conference.

Critics of the arrangement include a group of state attorneys general that broke with the Justice Department and have filed an antitrust lawsuit seeking to block the more than $26 billion merger. Five states that weren’t part of the lawsuit joined the federal government in the settlement announced Friday.

“Why scramble so much to create a fourth competitor when you already have one?” said Samuel Weinstein, an assistant law professor at the Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University who worked previously in the Justice Department’s antitrust unit.

The deal gives Dish Network, a satellite-TV provider, about nine million Sprint prepaid cellphone customers and additional wireless spectrum. Those subscribers, which mostly come from its Boost Mobile business, represent about one-fifth of Sprint’s customer base. Dish’s service, which could keep the Boost brand or take on a new name, would also be able to move from pay-as-you-go plans to postpaid service, which tends to be more profitable.

T-Mobile and Sprint must also give Dish access to at least 20,000 cell sites and hundreds of retail locations. The new T-Mobile must provide “robust access” to its network, the Justice Department said.  Please see comments on Dish in the box below this article.

The union of T-Mobile and Sprint, years in the making, would create a wireless company surpassing 90 million U.S. customers, closing the gap with Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc., which each have roughly 100 million wireless customers. It also would fulfill a long-held goal of Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp., which owns most of Sprint, and Deutsche Telekom AG, which controls T-Mobile.

T-Mobile and Sprint currently use separate frequencies, often requiring different cell towers:

Under the merger:

  • Dish rents capacity from the new T-Mobile, creating a new carrier to serve Boost Mobile customers and giving it time to build its own network.
  • After seven years, Dish runs its own network using spectrum from its past acquisitions and its own equipment installed on fewer towers.

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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, who had previously backed the deal, said Friday the Justice Department settlement, coupled with T-Mobile and Sprint’s earlier commitments to deploy a nationwide 5G network, will preserve competition and advance U.S. leadership in rolling out next-generation networks.

In its agreement with the government, T-Mobile promised not to raise prices for three years and cover 97% of the U.S. population with 5G service in three years.   T-Mobile has been adding millions of customers at the expense of its rivals, pushing unlimited data plans and lower prices than the incumbents. Sprint, despite owning valuable airwaves, has been shedding millions of subscribers and has struggled to be profitable.

T-Mobile surpassed Sprint to become the number three wireless carrier by subscribers and argued the acquisition of the smaller carrier’s airwaves would help speed its deployment of a 5G network so that it could better compete with Verizon and AT&T.  U.S. carriers have been battling for customers in the $180 billion wireless voice-and-data market, where growth has slowed now that the companies have rolled out unlimited data plans and most Americans have upgraded to smartphones.

 

Dish will scrap its NB-IoT plan and focus purely on 5G, which the U.S. government has always wanted, according to a person familiar with the matter. (Dish hasn’t totally abandoned its old plan yet because the deal still hasn’t closed).  Dish must build a 5G network that covers 20% of the U.S. population by 2022 and 70% by 2023. If it can’t reach that goal, Dish will have to pay a $2.2 billion penalty to the U.S. Treasury.
Merger Being Challenged:
A group of states led by the attorneys general of New York and California are pressing ahead with an antitrust lawsuit seeking to block the combination, saying it would harm consumers. All the officials who joined the suit are Democrats; those who decided to support the Justice Department on Friday are Republicans.

Letitia James, the New York attorney general, said the proposed merger would cause harm to consumers nationwide. “To be clear: The free market should be picking winners and losers, not the government, and not regulators,” she said during a call with reporters. Ms. James said Dish lacks the experience to operate a nationwide mobile network.

Mr. Delrahim said his office will share its settlement with the federal judge overseeing the states’ lawsuit. “Sometimes independent sovereigns do make independent determinations,” he said. A trial is expected later this year. On Friday, T-Mobile and Sprint extended the deadline to close their deal, from July 29 to Nov. 1.

The Justice Department stopped sharing information with the Democratic attorneys general after they decided to file their lawsuit in June without notifying their federal counterparts, Mr. Delrahim said. “That was their choice, not ours,” he said.

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T-Mobile said it expects to close its Sprint purchase in the second half of this year despite the states’ lawsuit.  Under the deal, Dish will pay $1.4 billion for the Sprint customer accounts, most of which come from its Boost prepaid brand, and $3.6 billion three years later to buy Sprint spectrum licenses in the 800-megahertz range, which can travel long distances and cover rural areas.

The new T-Mobile will have the option to lease back part of that spectrum for an additional two years after the airwaves sale closes. The companies have also agreed to negotiate for T-Mobile to lease Dish spectrum in the 600-megahertz range.

Dish is set to start its wireless life with a base of Sprint’s pay-as-you-go customers, though carriers often struggle to keep those so-called prepaid subscribers. More than 4% of Sprint’s prepaid customers choose to drop their service or are disconnected for nonpayment each month, according to company filings.

The deal creates a fake competitor, said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, a lecturer at Georgetown Law, adding that even if Dish builds out its own network it will take years. During that time, the three large carriers will be able to introduce 5G and lock in their subscriber bases, he said.

“Rather than having Sprint as a weak fourth competitor, the combined companies will now face an extremely weak fourth competitor,” Mr. Schwartzman said.

Sprint ended March with nearly $33 billion of net debt on its balance sheet. Even though it had more than 40 million customers, Sprint said during deal negotiations that it was in poor health and wouldn’t be able to launch nationwide 5G service without the merger.

Dish has argued it can build a better network by starting from scratch. Even before he pursued a deal with the Justice Department, Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said his business could invest capital more efficiently without the burden of old equipment and software holding back its ambitions. Dish hasn’t made public the prices or structure of the wireless plans it will sell.

“These developments are the fulfillment of more than two decades’ worth of work and more than $21 billion in spectrum investments intended to transform Dish into a connectivity company,” Dish CEO Ergen said in a press release. “Taken together, these opportunities will set the stage for our entry as the nation’s fourth facilities-based wireless competitor and accelerate our work to launch the country’s first standalone 5G broadband network.”

Dish says:

The 800 MHz nationwide spectrum adds to Dish’s existing 600 MHz and 700 MHz low-band holdings. The low-band portfolio, well suited for wide geographic coverage and in-building penetration, complements Dish’s AWS-4 and AWS H Block mid-band offerings, which promise high data capacity potential with narrower operating range.

Dish has committed to new buildout schedules associated with the company’s 600 MHz, AWS-4, 700 MHz E Block and AWS H Block licenses. In addition, DISH has committed to deploy 5G Broadband Service utilizing those licenses.

Senior FCC officials said on a call with reporters that they are confident the new carrier under Dish will be viable because the wholesale deal it has struck with the new T-Mobile is more aggressive than any other such arrangement the carrier and Sprint currently have. Its terms give Dish the financial ability to compete in the prepaid market against T-Mobile’s Metro brand, they said.   The settlement also included provisions designed to make sure Dish actually builds the promised infrastructure. Among other penalties, Dish agreed to pay the government up to $2.2 billion if it fails to meet its network expansion requirements.

Following the closing of T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint and subsequent integration into the New T-Mobile, DISH will have the option to take on leases for certain cell sites and retail locations that are decommissioned by the New T-Mobile for five years following the closing of the divestiture transaction, subject to any assignment restrictions. The companies have also committed to engage in good faith negotiations regarding the leasing of some or all of DISH’s 600 MHz spectrum to T-Mobile.

The completion of the T-Mobile and Sprint combination remains subject to remaining regulatory approvals and certain other customary closing conditions. T-Mobile and Sprint expect to receive final federal regulatory approval in Q3 2019 and currently anticipate that the merger will be permitted to close in the second half of 2019. Additional information can be found at www.NewTMobile.com.

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Addendum from WSJ Editorial Board July 27, 2019 print edition:

The Justice Dept has rescued Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen from his bet of buying wireless spectrum but keeping it idle. Mr. Ergen loudly opposed the merger, and his reward was the chance to buy Sprint’s pre-paid customers at a bargain price and have access to 20,000 T-Mobile-Sprint cell sites and hundreds of retail locations. But Dish has no experience running a wireless network, and it will take years to build one even as the Big Three invest to gain an edge in 5G wireless…………………………………………………..

A  strong third competitor will be good for consumers and 5G deployment in the U.S. The combined company should force Verizon and AT&T to focus on 5G rather than dabbling in content acquisitions like Time Warner. Three strong competitors are better than two.

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FCC Comments:

“That’s a real significant win for U.S. leadership in 5G. It’s been my top priority. It’s been a big priority for the Trump administration. And by accelerating 5G build-out through this deal, 99% of Americans are going to see 5G faster,” FCC Commissioner Carr said.

In addition to the Justice Department, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced support for the more than $26 billion merger in May. The deal still faces a lawsuit from 13 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia that seeks to block it.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/26/fcc-official-clearance-of-sprint-t-mobile-deal-is-significant-win.html

 

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References:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/justice-department-approves-merger-of-t-mobile-us-and-sprint-11564155026

https://www.t-mobile.com/news/t-mobile-sprint-merger-doj-clearance

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/26/dish-network-finally-has-a-plan-for-a-new-wireless-network.html

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2018/08/03/dish-network-on-track-for-5g-build-out-phase1-is-nb-iot/

T-Mobile mmWave 5G to be available in six cities on June 28th along with Samsung Galaxy S10 5G smartphone

T-Mobile US has announced it will use millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum to offer up “pre-standard 5G” services in parts of six cities beginning on June 28th.  Sales of the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G will commence that same day (see References below). The company published detailed coverage maps showing where subscribers in Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York can expect to access their 5G network.

T-Mobile has said its plan for nationwide coverage hinges on its vast portfolio of 600 MHz spectrum, but the “Un-carrier” also has its own stash of high-band frequencies. Sprint activated its mobile 5G offering using mid-band 2.5 GHz spectrum. The complementary aspects of Sprint’s and T-Mobile’s spectrum is a key piece of the pending $26.5 billion merger, which is awaiting regulatory approval which may be delayed due to several states filing opposition lawsuits.

 

T-Mobile US CEO John Legere, has been highly critical of AT&T’s and Verizon’s millimeter wave-based 5G deployments (particularly the lack of coverage maps). He wrote in a June 20th blog post that the “New T-Mobile” (merged with Sprint) could deliver the range of spectrum needed for 5G.

Current 5G networks in the U.S. aren’t anything to write home about. That’s because they’re mostly focused on high-band millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum, which doesn’t travel far from the cell site and is blocked by things like trees, windows and doors. It’s a massively important part of 5G, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just that – a PART. We’ve been clear all along… real, game-changing 5G will require a range of spectrum – low, mid and high – and only the New T-Mobile will be able to deliver it.”

Legere stated that the “New T-Mobile” (merged with Sprint) would be better able to deliver 5G because:

  • We’ve got the high-band spectrum with mmWave, which delivers massive capacity over a very small footprint.
  • Later this year, when compatible smartphones launch, we’ll launch broad 5G on our low-band 600 MHz spectrum, providing the wide area coverage necessary to reach across America.
  • If regulators approve our merger with Sprint, we’ll have the crucial mid-band spectrum (2.5 GHz), which provides the balance of coverage and capacity that enables a seamless and meaningful 5G experience. Mid-band spectrum is key to providing an ideal mix of coverage and capacity for 5G networks, and the combination of Sprint’s mid-band and our low-band will allow New T-Mobile to use both spectrum more efficiently, increasing capacity even more.

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T-Mobile said it will use “Multi-band Dual Connectivity” to aggregate “5G in the millimeter wave band and LTE.”

T-Mobile plans to launch a larger 5G network later this year using the low-band 600Mhz 5G spectrum, a technology not supported by the Galaxy S10 5G.  5G smart phones that support both mmWave and the low-band spectrum are expected later this year.

However, critical infrastructure for mmWave 5G will require many more small cells (due to limited range)  that will need to be mounted on mainly local (public) government property with fiber backhaul.  We wonder why that gating item is hardly ever discussed on line or in the telecom business press?  It is probably why T-Mobile’s 5G mmWave coverage is extremely limited as you can see from their coverage maps.

References:

https://www.t-mobile.com/news/samsung-galaxy-s10-5g

https://www.t-mobile.com/5g

https://www.tmonews.com/2019/06/t-mobile-galaxy-s10-5g-launch-network-six-cities/

 

2019 IoT World: T-Mobile is Changing the Game for Massive IoT via NB-IoT

Introduction:

T-Mobile USA was the first U.S. wireless carrier to provide nationwide NB-IoT coverage last July.  The “uncarrier” is very proud to have 81 million cellular customers and a very low churn rate.  The company has invested billions of dollars in the last five years to modernize and transform its wireless network. As of February 7, 2019,  T-Mobile’s LTE network now covers 325 million people, according to a recent earning report..

During his May 14th 2019 IoT World keynote, Balaji Sridharan, VP of IoT & M2M at T-Mobile US, described the challenges to overcome to realize massive IoT at scale and T-Mobile’s wireless networks that might be used for three different classes of IoT connectivity.  Balaji also enumerate key features and attributes of NB-IoT and showed an interesting comparison chart of LPWANs.  He said its 600 MHz spectrum is deployed throughout the U.S.  [1]

Note 1.  During its April 2019 earnings call, CTO Neville Ray said: “we have over 1 million square miles of 600 megahertz LTE rolled out.  It’s working in 44 states and Puerto Rico. And we have a 100 million covered PoPs on 600 megahertz LTE. So we’ve said that in 2020, we’ll have a nationwide footprint on 5G. 

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IoT Classification and Characteristics [from Ericsson white paper]:

Massive IoT: Connecting billions of devices, small amounts of data volumes, (mostly) sent infrequently, low power required for long battery life (years not days, weeks or months).

Broadband IoT will need high throughput and/or low latency.; large data volumes.

Critical IoT will require ultra high reliability/availability and very low latency.  Industrial automation (and robotic surgery) will require time sensitive information delivery and precise positioning of devices.

Industrial Automation is tailored for advanced industrial automation in conjunction with the other cellular IoT segments. It includes Radio Access Network (RAN) capabilities to facilitate the support of deterministic networks which, together with ethernet-based protocols and other industrial protocols, will enable many advanced industrial automation applications. 

These applications have extremely demanding connectivity requirements and require very accurate indoor positioning and distinct architecture and security attributes. Industrial Automation IoT reinforced by Critical IoT connectivity is the key enabler for the full digitalization of Industry 4.0 for the world’s manufacturers, the Oil and Gas sectors as well as smart grid components for energy distribution companies. 

Figure 1: Cellular IoT segments

Above chart courtesy of Ericsson.

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T-Mo has wireless networks to meet all of the above IoT market segmants.  In particular, NB-IoT, 4G-LTE, and (soon) 5G.

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Challenges to overcome for Massive IoT:

  • Support billions of devices at scale (that includes provisioning and (re) configuration).
  • Long battery life (via low power consumption of devices/things)
  • Coverage enhancements
  • Global reach

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NB-IoT meets the requirements for Massive IoT:

Operates in guard bands of T-Mobile’s LTE network. [2]

Wide range of devices to be connected to the Internet using existing mobile networks (rather then new network infrastructure).

Key benefits include:  better battery life (again via low power consumption for connectivity), cheaper device costs ($5 certified NB-IoT module is now available), optimized data usage, reduced IP header and ability to transmit/receive non-IP data (which results in 30% to 40% less data transmission than if traditional IP was used), enhanced security via GSMA standards, licensed spectrum (no interference),, SIM based, and encryption.

Balaji said: “Improved network coverage is achieved via repetitions, which are used to enhance coverage.”  [3.]

Note 2. NB-IoT can also be implemented in “standalone” for deployments in dedicated spectrum.

Note 3. From an IEEE published paper titled: Enhancing Coverage in Narrow Band-IoT Using Machine Learning:

NB-IoT needs only a small portion of the existing available cellular spectrum to operate without interfering with it. Hence, NB-IoT provides more reliability and more quality of service (QoS) as it operates in regulated spectrum. Moreover, NB-IoT uses existing cellular network infrastructure, which reduces the deployment costs.

However, since repeating transmission data and control signals has been selected as a major solution to enhance coverage of NB-IoT systems, this leads to reducing the system throughput and thereby a spectral efficiency loss.

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Here’s a comparison chart showing: 2G,  licensed spectrum NB-IoT vs unlicensed band Sigfox and LoRa (WAN):

Chart courtesy of T-Mobile USA

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Balaji highlighted several Massive IoT applications that could effectively  use NB-IoT for connectivity.  Those include: asset tracking, smart metering, smart lighting, equipment monitoring, smart packaging, and intelligent waste management.

In addition to the $5 NB-IoT modules now available Balaji revealed T-Mo has a $5/year NB-IoT service plan.  

T-Mo hosted the U.S.’ first NB-IoT Hackathon to develop IoT applications that would leverage NB-IoT as a viable wireless network.  Sensing the presene of forest fires was an example he provided.

T-Mo partnered with Twillio to get NB-IoT to market.  They created a new development kit that allowed Hackathon participants to access the NB-IoT network.  [4.]

Note 4.  More than 100 new and seasoned developers descended on T-Mobile HQ to help shape the future of NB-IoT at the Hackathon.  20 creative and unique IoT concepts for prospective IoT solutions emerged that could leverage the low cost and power efficiency of NB-IoT and its reliability over long distances.

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U.S. Carrier Comparison for NB-IoT Deployments:

T-Mobile launched its NB-IoT network last July. AT&T’s NB-IoT network went live two weeks ago. Sprint said it is testing NB-IoT technology, but it plans to merge with T-Mobile in the not-too-distant future so may not roll out its own NB-IoT offering.

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NB-IoT Chipset Forecast:

Research & Markets predicts the NB-IoT chipset market is expected to grow from USD 272 million in 2019 to USD 2,002 million by 2024 at a CAGR of 49.1%.

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References:

https://www.t-mobile.com/news/americas-first-narrowband-iot-network

https://iot.t-mobile.com/narrowband/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2019/04/27/t-mobile-u-s-profit-beats-estimates-plan-to-launch-5g-on-600-mhz-in-2h-2019/

https://www.gsma.com/iot/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/NB-IoT_Deployment_Guide_v2_5Apr2018.pdf

https://iot.t-mobile.com/hackathon/

https://iot.t-mobile.com/wp-content/themes/T-Mobile/device_images/pdf_download/Whitepaper_NarrowBand_IoT_March2019.pdf

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2019/05/15/2019-iot-world-verizons-narrowband-iot-nb-iot-network-now-covers-92-of-u-s/

 

T-Mobile U.S. profit beats estimates; Plan to launch 5G on 600 MHz in 2H-2019

T-Mobile USA, the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier by subscriber count, beat Wall Street analysts estimates for first-quarter revenue and profit, as competitive pricing lured new subscribers to its monthly cellphone plans.  Net income surged to $908 million, or $1.06 per share, in the three months ended March 31, from $671 million, or 78 cents per share, a year earlier.  Analysts had expected the company to earn 91 cents per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.   Revenue rose nearly 6 percent to $11.08 billion, in line with estimates.

T-Mo added a net 656,000 phone subscribers in the first quarter, up from 617,000 additions a year earlier and substantially more than the 612,000 new subscribers analysts had expected, according to research firm FactSet.

The wireless telco is awaiting approval of its $26 billion deal to buy smaller rival Sprint Corp, which it has said will give it scale to compete with market leaders Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc.

T-Mobile US Chief Executive John Legere said during a post-earnings call with analysts that he remained “optimistic and confident” that U.S. regulators would recognize the merger as good for consumers, and said he still expects deal approval in the first half of this year.

Reuters reported last week that the U.S. Justice Department has told T-Mobile and Sprint it has concerns about the merger in its current structure.  At a meeting on Wednesday, U.S. regulators questioned Sprint and T-Mobile executives about the deal.

John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile said: “We’re off to a fast start in 2019 with customer growth that accelerated year-over-year, record low churn and we expect to lead the industry in postpaid phone growth. We’re executing on our business plan and our guidance shows that we expect our momentum to continue.”

On the earnings call, Legere added:  “And even with Charter and Sprint left to report. T-Mobile still took an estimated 88% of the industry’s postpaid phone growth. We also put up a customer growth number that accelerated year-over-year, extended our streak of more than 1 million total net per quarter to six years and delivered an all time record low postpaid phone churn results of 0.88%, by the way, that churn number is better than AT&T and within 4 basis points of Verizon.”

The company claims they have Industry Leading Network Performance:

  • 99% of Americans now covered with a 4G LTE network that is second to none
  • Fastest combined average of download and upload speeds for 21 quarters in a row
  • Aggressive deployment of 600 MHz using 5G ready equipment, now reaching nearly 3,500 cities and towns
  • On track to have the first nationwide 5G network available next year

Legere speaking on the earnings call:

“We continued to expand our 4G LTE coverage and deliver industry-leading network performance. Our network now covers approximately 326 million Americans with 4G LTE. And now we have 600 megahertz and 700 megahertz low band spectrum deployed to 304 million people across the country. In terms of 4G LTE speeds for 21 quarters in a row, we delivered the fastest combined average of download and upload speeds.

Our engineering team is hard at work building the foundation for America’s first real nationwide 4G network with an aggressive build out of 600 megahertz spectrum, which we expect to be ready next year as well as millimeter wave. Our 600 megahertz LTE deployment is on equipment that’s 5G ready. And we continue to make incredible progress since getting our hands on the spectrum. Almost 3,500 cities and towns in 44 states and Puerto Rico alive with LTE on 600 megahertz today, well ahead of expectations.

And we have 4,600 megahertz capable devices in our lineup today including the new iPhones. We plan to launch 5G on 600 megahertz as soon as we have compatible smart phones in the second half of this year. And if our merger with Sprint is approved, we will get access to unmatched available mid-band spectrum for 5G, which will result in a uniquely powerful 5G network with eight times the capacity by 2024 of the combined standalones today and 15 times average speeds by 2024 verses today.

We certainly watched Verizon’s 5G launch experiment on millimeter wave spectrum in tiny pockets of two cities with interest. Not surprisingly, customers are having a hard time finding a signal. And probably not just because Verizon won’t publish a coverage map. And I won’t even get into that trickery AT&T is using with customers on 5GE. While they both are pursuing 5G BS, we think 5G should be for everyone, everywhere. Having 5G on 600 megahertz in terms of coverage and adding Sprint spectrum for broad capacity will be a true game changer and will turn New T-Mobile into the undisputed 5G leader, not only in the U.S. but around the world. We remained very confident in our outlook for 2019 and it’s reflected in our guidance that Braxton will review in a minute.”

CTO Neville Ray answers a spectrum question from Simon Flannery of Morgan Stanley on the earnings call:

“As we’re rolling out 600 megahertz, we’re using 5G capable radio (3GPP Rel 15 “5G NR”). So obviously we’re taking new software on a regular basis, the 5G softwares coming in heavy and fast.

But here we are today, we’ve got over 1 million square miles of 600 megahertz LTE rolled out for across.  It’s working in 44 states and Puerto Rico. And we have a 100 million covered POPs on 600 megahertz LTE. So we’ve said that in 2020, we’ll have a nationwide footprint on 5G. And as we look at our launch environment, when we get the terminals in the second half of 2019, we’re going to be lighting up an enormous footprint on 5G, an enormous footprint on 600 megahertz.

And we have a lot of spectrum as you point out. We were incredibly successful in the auction, which seems like yesterday, that was two years ago. And we intend to put down a very large three, four lane highway across the U.S. with 600 megahertz. And I think it’s going to be in stark contrast to the pockets of 5G that are out there today and very, very limited from AT&T and Verizon. And Verizon maybe doing more cities, but it seems to be a handful of sites in very urban environments with very limited range.

And we’re not sitting there just throwing rocks at millimeter wave. We believe in millimeter wave, but – and we will launch millimeter wave services ourselves. But I can tell you now the software is not mature. We continue to work with the same equipment and software as the Verizon guys have decided to launch and even have the goal to ask their customers to pay $10 bucks more a month to access wherever they could find it. I believe they pulled that back today. They’ve pulled back the $10 price like they were trying to force on people, but comparing contrast tens of millions of covered POPs with 5G to handfuls. That’s the excitement and scale of what we love to do with 5G. Not in 2020, but in 2019. And as soon as we can get those devices onto – and into our customer’s hands, we will.”

John Legere:

“I just editorialize, I’ve been doing this a long time, I’ve never seen a team move as fast to deploy spectrum as an excellent team that moved on this 600 MHz. Yes, we use to think that we are now across 3,500 cities and towns in 44 states and Puerto Rico, 1 million square miles of territory with 600 and all of that already 5G compatible. We talk about being the first one to be nationwide next year, a lot of times that’s defined as 200 million, maybe we’ll march past that. But here we are in April of 2019 already having accomplished that kind of a milestone. It’s amazing.”

Ray answers a multi-part question from Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson LLC:

“I talked the lengths are about what we can do with 600 megahertz and obviously, as we light up, think about just on a standalone basis, lighting up 30 megahertz nationwide on top of the assets that we’ve deployed today. So speeds are absolutely going to move from the 30, 35 net averages, they that exist in the network today, into the 60s and 70s peak speeds are going to move well north probably not quite doubling where we are today, but into the hundreds of megabits per second.

That’s achievable, right. As you combine an aggregate, the 600 megahertz in with the mid-band spectrum that we have. So that’s a very interesting proposition. But it fails in comparison to what we can do with the New T-Mobile. And the rollout that we can achieve with 2.5 gigahertz and especially the amount of spectrum mid-band spectrum that we can push into 5G early, and address this need of mid-band 5G, which the world – the rest of the world is running with. Craig as you know, here in the U.S., we have this mid-band dilemma. We can solve that with the combination of T-Mobile and Sprint, and really move forward with a tremendous 5G experience with breadth and depth and all of the data and the fact points that John pointed out earlier in the messaging.

So that’s the piece I’m focused on. Obviously on a standalone basis, it’s a different world. But then that’s us and AT&T and Verizon and everybody else trying to figure out how do we move to that next level of performance with 5G in a world where the mid-band spectrum that’s needed to really drive that is not coming from auctions or from other sources in any real timeframe that’s comfortable for anybody.

But the combination of T-Mobile and Sprint creates that mid-band opportunity in a way that cannot be created in the U.S. marketplace over the coming years. That’s what’s so unique and exciting about the opportunity. And Craig, that’s where I spend my time. I’m thinking about that piece. I know we’ve got a very strong network. I’m adding a lot of 600 megahertz, a new spectrum to the asset that we have. So a lot of confidence there, but the excitement and the thing that we long for and look forward to is this combination of the Sprint.”

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References:

https://www.t-mobile.com/news/t-mobile-q1-2019-earnings

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4256978-t-mobile-us-tmus-ceo-john-legere-q1-2019-results-earnings-call-transcript?page=8

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