T-Mobile plots in-home broadband play - Mobile World Live

T-Mobile plots in-home broadband play

21 SEP 2018

T-Mobile US shed light on a plan to deliver fixed wireless access (FWA) residential broadband if its proposed merger with Sprint is approved, revealing it expects to blanket more than half the country with service by 2024.

In a filing with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), T-Mobile said it will offer its wireless home broadband product in areas where available capacity on the network exceeds mobility needs to a sufficient degree to support in-home service.

T-Mobile said it will compete head to head with cable incumbents, covering 64 per cent of Charter Communications’ territory and 68 per cent of Comcast’s footprint. And it expects to win with consumers: the operator estimated it will have 1.9 million FWA broadband customers by 2021 and 9.5 million by 2024. Such subscriber figures would make it the fourth largest US internet service provider by 2024, it noted.

Initially, it expects to offer average download speeds of 100Mb/s. But by 2024, T-Mobile said it will cover 250 million people with data rates of more than 300Mb/s and 200 million people with data rates of more than 500Mb/s. For comparison, Verizon’s FWA 5G broadband product set to launch in October promises typical speeds of 300Mb/s with peak rates of 1Gb/s.

It appears service setup will be one point of differentiation for the operator: T-Mobile said customers will be able to “self-provision the necessary in-home equipment” rather than scheduling installation appointments as typically required by cable operators.

Change of tune
T-Mobile first shared its intent to offer fixed wireless service post-merger in a June FCC filing, but didn’t flesh out its plan until now.

The plot marks a stark departure from the operator’s previous view of FWA as a niche application. Speaking with reporters at Mobile World Congress in 2017, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray called FWA a valuable but fringe use case, and scoffed at the idea that it could supplant traditional cable internet in the home.

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Diana Goovaerts

Diana joins Mobile World Live as its new US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana comes to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and...

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