AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have all launched early 5G networks and devices in the United States, leaving T-Mobile as the only major U.S. carrier without a presence in the growing market — but T-Mobile CEO John Legere doesn’t see it that way. His two bigger rivals have launched millimeter wave 5G networks that are limited in scale and still unmapped, he said today in a new blog post, and only Sprint’s just-launched 2.5GHz 5G network can deliver “a seamless and meaningful 5G experience.”
Legere clearly isn’t unbiased or impartial in the situation, as T-Mobile is still awaiting regulatory approval for its merger with Sprint, and the blog post is designed to dispel misinformation regarding the deal. It’s “important for me to make sure people really understand that the New T-Mobile will absolutely be GOOD for innovation and good for consumers,” Legere explains, addressing concerns that have been raised by federal and state regulators during the merger review process.
On the consumer side, Legere says that T-Mobile is building “5G for all” — service that will truly reach across the United States, thanks to the high-, mid-, and low-band spectrum strategy it enunciated well before rivals. The company is sticking to its previously announced plan to start with a blanket of low-band 600MHz 5G coverage in 2019, then leverage Sprint’s mid-band for faster, seamless coverage after the merger, and add its own high-frequency assets in certain areas to boost speeds thereafter.
He contrasted his strategy with AT&T and Verizon, accusing them of playing games with “price, lack of transparency and outright lies about 5G,” which “really threatens to take us a step backward in this new era.” AT&T, he said, still isn’t selling 5G devices to consumers, and is misbranding 5GE to “fool” people. Meanwhile, Verizon flip-flopped on whether to start charging customers extra for the faster service, and neither company is offering proper coverage maps to show where their 5G is available.
T-Mobile, he says, won’t offer “5G for just the affluent,” pledging that “value conscious” consumers will be able to afford the company’s services. The merger will create “a stronger competitor to AT&T and Verizon, shifting the Un-carrier into overdrive,” a key point that has been ignored by some regulators as they’ve focused more on whether fewer competitors will harm cellular competition than whether a more viable competitor to AT&T, Verizon, and the cable industry is necessary.
Innovation is the other part of the equation, and on that front, Legere points to the educational benefits of 5G-powered AR and VR, including “virtual field trips” for students, especially ones in rural areas — places that will be more quickly served by T-Mobile’s 600MHz national blanket of 5G, reaching innovative minds across the country, than networks built with clusters of short-range millimeter wave hardware. He also notes that 5G will benefit users with disabilities, enabling blind users to better navigate their surroundings and providing deaf users with superior tools for communication.
T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint has been held up with lengthy reviews by federal and state officials. The Federal Communications Commission has already signaled its approval of the merger, while the Department of Justice has not yet committed to supporting or opposing it. On the state side, multiple attorney generals have moved to block the merger, while commitments to deliver rural service and jobs have won tentative support elsewhere.