T-Mobile executives express change of heart on fixed wireless after Sprint merger deal

T-Mobile executives recently stated its proposed merger with Sprint could allow the new joint business to offer homes, offices and other locations Internet services, FierceWireless reports. This move could put the merged company in competition with wired Internet providers such as Comcast, Charter and Verizon.

This statement is significant because T-Mobile leadership has downplayed its chances of using fixed wireless technology instead of wired Internet connections.

What fixed wireless means for real estate companies.

Well first things first. Before T-Mobile embraces the idea of fixed wireless Internet, the merger has be approved. If it is, homeowners, as well as commercial building owners, could be the beneficiaries, especially in rural areas as fixed wireless could mean better, less expensive coverage and more options.

Rather than putting cables in the ground and setting up expensive infrastructure, T-Mobile could install receivers in homes and buildings, which would bring residents and tenants web access through a cable that carries broadband signals to the receivers in the building.

T-Mobile possibly entering the fixed wireless arena would also push providers who are currently the only one in town to provide better service. A fixed wireless Internet option could also be a less expensive one for building owners as opposed to LTE equipment. In some cases, fixed wireless can provide faster services, which can be crucial in terms of retaining and attracting tenants.

T-Mobile, Sprint could fulfill a need for speed.

If the T-Mobile, Sprint merger is approved and new company moves forward with fixed wireless Internet, any real estate company or building owner who uses its services should expect high speed connection.

T-Mobile’s Mike Stewart highlighted the wireless speeds his company and Sprint could provide if they merged during the carrier’s quarterly conference call. The new T-Mobile-Sprint joint business could provide wireless through 5G technology running on spectrum bands with Sprint’s 2.5 GHz and T-Mobile’s 600 MHz.

“That’s going to 450 megabits per second within the planning horizon of this business,” Stewart said. “That’s a national average, not a place to get in some parts of some towns, like our competitors’ millimeter-wave strategy that can go higher than that in very isolated places.”

Competitors Verizon and AT&T are also deploying 5G services partly on a millimeter-wave spectrum and stated the signals in that spectrum usually travel up to 2,000 feet. However, this is a significantly shorter distance than the amount of coverage that could be gained through mid-and low-band spectrum that is usually reserved for wireless services. A millimeter-wave spectrum does have the ability to transmit more data than a mid-and low-band spectrum however.

“So, what do you do with a nationwide average of 450 megabits per second?” asked T-Mobile’s Sievert asked during the carrier’s earnings call. “Well, first you recognize that that’s way higher than most people get in their home broadband today. So, of course we can be a competitor in that space. And this is a market that’s incredibly underserved; 53 percent of high-speed broadband customers have only one choice for high-speed broadband in their area. So there’s a huge opportunity here for us to bring real competitiveness to that market for the first time.”

A T-Mobile fixed wireless Internet service could change the TV landscape, too.

With T-Mobile recently acquiring Layer3 TV, its plan to deploy TV services could get a boost if its merger with Sprint is successful, according to Sievert.

“Because now you have a network where you can provide that all-IP TV service not just through their home broadband connection or onto their smartphone, but through a wireless alternative to their home broadband as well,” he said. “So, T-Mobile is in a position, through the New T-Mobile, to offer a quad play, if that’s what the market wants.”

Sievert added if Sprint and T-Mobile successfully merged, the new company would be in a unique position to compete all throughout the market: providing people Internet at home and wireless when they are on the go.

These comments about T-Mobile potentially providing home Internet services via a fixed wireless business are opposite of what other executives have said about the idea–before the merger deal.

T-Mobile chief technology officer CTO Neville Ray wrote in September 2016, “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!”

Three months later, he added, “The carriers’ current vision for 5G is mind-numbingly limited. 5G’s potential is so much larger than replacing in-home broadband and IoT. But they can’t see beyond their own wallets. AT&T wants to ‘connect your world’—including your bank account—to AT&T. Verizon’s grand vision is that you Netflix at home with wireless Verizon broadband. How is that game changing?”

More recently however, Ray has acknowledge T-Mobile might offer a fixed wireless product, but the company will remains focused on mobile 5G.

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