- T-Mobile announced a $3.5 billion purchase agreement with Nokia to supply the infrastructure for its 5G rollout, the largest such deal around the new wireless technology.
- The purchase will support T-Mobile’s planned nationwide 5G network with broad coverage on the 600 megahertz spectrum and high-speed connections on the 28 gigahertz spectrum.
- "We are all in on 5G," Neville Ray, T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer, said in a statement. "Every dollar we spend is a 5G dollar, and our agreement with Nokia underscores the kind of investment we’re making to bring customers a mobile, nationwide 5G network."
T-Mobile has said it will make 5G service available in 30 cities by the end of this year, accelerated by its merger to Sprint. In a regulatory filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier this year, the two companies said that after the merger, they would invest $40 billion in a unified 5G system that "would leapfrog Verizon and AT&T's networks." In a statement Monday, Ray said that "together with Sprint, we’ll be able to do So. Much. More," especially following the technology purchase.
The companies have already announced nine cities for the 5G rollout: New York City, Kansas City, Phoenix, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Houston, TX and Washington, DC. Competition is fierce to get 5G off the ground. AT&T has promised to launch in a dozen cities by the end of the year, including several mid-sized ones, and Verizon last week announced that Houston would be the third of four cities in its 2018 launch.
Infrastructure remains a major barrier to 5G deployment, given the high cost of installing the small cells necessary to make a high-speed network in dense urban areas. Some companies have been partnering with cities — like a deal between San Jose, CA and three telecoms — to ease the barriers to physical infrastructure deployment. With Nokia’s help, T-Mobile says it will not only launch a network faster, but will be able to test the smart cities applications of 5G, such as expanded use of connected vehicles and smart electric grids.