- T-Mobile will offer high-speed 5G home internet, CEO John Legere wrote in a blog post, but only after federal regulators approve T-Mobile’s proposed merger with Sprint. A pilot would give customers a free 4G router that uses the company’s LTE network, which subsequently would be upgraded to include 5G compatible hardware after the Sprint merger.
- Legere wrote that the company — referred to as New T-Mobile — would seek to bring broadband to rural homes, with plans to deliver at least 100 megabits per second (Mbps) wireless broadband to 90% of the population, and in-home service to half the country by 2024.
- Competition from New T-Mobile will “give the Cableopoly a challenge they’ve never had to deal with,” Legere wrote. “Choice, competition, better service, lower prices, faster speeds. This is going to be great for millions of Americans,” he added.
T-Mobile has used the promise of 5G as a major talking point in support of its proposed $26 billion merger, as well as the opportunity to bring high-speed broadband adds another potential consumer benefit. The company also outlined the broadband plans in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The fact that Legere is also focusing on opportunities for rural Americans is a major selling point. The FCC has has said 80% of the 24 million American households that lack reliable broadband are in rural areas, although a draft report found roughly 5.6 million rural households have gained access in the past year.
There’s been debate about whether 5G could close that gap, and Legere says its “broadband in a box” plug-and-use router would be “a total game changer” for rural and underserved communities.
Although Legere’s post says T-Mobile will be offering better coverage than the “dismal options” than other carriers, AT&T and Verizon are both working on their own 5G networks, including home internet. Verizon even launched a pilot for home 5G broadband in the fall in select cities.
The announcement also comes as Legere is facing increasing skepticism about the merger, especially on Capitol Hill. Nine U.S. Senate Democrats signed a letter warning the merger would reduce competition in the industry by bringing the number of carriers down from four to three, potentially raising prices and reducing incentive to expand service. The House Judiciary Committee also announced a hearing next week with Legere and Sprint executive chairman Marcelo Claure to examine the merger.