T-Mobile CTO Strikes At 5G "Status Quo" Amid Merger Uncertainty


T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray took to the company's blog today to reiterate the company's case for its proposed $26.5-billion merger with Sprint and hitting out at what he calls the "5G status quo." The arguments put forward cover topics that will be familiar to those who have been following T-Mobile's pursuit of the deal but there are a few new details tossed in for good measure.

Chiefly, the executive puts the focus on the activity of other carriers in contrast to how T-Mobile wants to roll out next-gen networks. So it isn't surprising that AT&T's decision to roll out a '5G E' icon to a select number of its customers' smartphones or Verizon's use of a proprietary '5G TF' standard in its initial roll-outs is called into question. That's not the only way that Mr. Ray says the efforts of T-Mobile's competitors are narrowly-focused.

The biggest elephants in the room, T-Mobile's tech officer says, is the almost exclusive use of mmWave band spectrum and costs to consumers. Summarily, both companies in question are increasing the cost for data customers in support of 5G but neither has a far-reaching network technology in use and immediate plans don't seem to point in that direction either.


That's left both other carriers with networks so sparse that they haven't released comprehensive coverage maps, instead indicated certain regions, neighborhoods, and landmarks where the tech works in cities that have seen a rollout. Importantly, only Verizon currently has a smartphone that can even access the network and that requires an add-on product too, T-Mobile points out.

T-Mobile not only has no plans to increase pricing but plans to utilize Sprint's mid-band spectrum in combination with "all" other bands to cover a wider range of users while maximizing both speed and network capacity. It also plans to provide its consumers with full coverage maps even where service is limited and has no plans to sell either service or devices until its network is ready.

Less focus on some past arguments


T-Mobile's chief technology officer goes further to reiterate that the company still hopes to increase its combined overall employment figures but didn't elaborate on that. Previously, the carrier has said that a merger between itself and Sprint would result in as many as 600 new stores and an increase of hobs by around 7,500 by 2024. A substantial portion of those would be attributable to its planned new T-Mobile Team of Experts (TEX) Customer Experience Centers.

At least a couple of previous arguments were also notably absent in the company's latest posting. Namely, T-Mobile appears to have backed away from arguments pertaining to rural customers and low-income subscribers. It had made an argument that the merger would allow the carrier to reach as many as 95.8-percent of rural customers with service reaching into their homes by 2024.

Those are consumers that historically have not chosen Verizon or AT&T and would arguably be better served by increases in speed, reach, and reliability — particularly if the "New" T-Mobile can avoid raising rates.


A merger in trouble

T-Mobile's merger with its long-time rival seemed to be a done deal as recently as February. At that time, 16 of the 19 needed state utility commissions agreed that the move would be beneficial to the industry rather than causing any damage to competition. Sentiments in Washington don't reflect that approval across the board, however, and lawmakers are showing increasing concern over what they see as a reduction in competition.

The officials have indicated that they don't approve of the merger in its currently proposed form, as a result.


Sprint has argued back against that by proclaiming that it could cease to exist entirely without the merger, resulting in less competition. That doesn't necessarily improve its chances of success but T-Mobile's newly revamped arguments could add weight to the claim amid increasing competition to reach 5G dominance on the world stage.