T-Mobile and Nokia have achieved their first 5G data transmission on 600 MHz spectrum, a band on which T-Mobile plans to build out a nationwide next generation network in 2020. T-Mobile and Nokia engineers completed the downlink transmission tests using global 5G standards in Spokane, Washington. The successful tests prove that low-band airwaves will provide 5G coverage across hundreds of square miles from a single tower.
“Low-band spectrum is essential for wide-area reach and reliable coverage that travels over distance, into buildings, and isn’t limited to line of sight,” according to a T-Mobile spokesman. “That broad coverage will be critical for bringing 5G to rural areas and powering mobile 5G applications, including IoT.”
T-Mobile has deployed 5G-ready Extended Range LTE equipment in the 600 MHz band in more than 1,500 cities and towns in 37 states and Puerto Rico.
Six weeks ago, few people knew there even was a Mobile Infrastructure Hall of Fame. But as WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein took the stage for the first induction ceremony in a crowded room of 500 of the industry’s leaders, it felt like there has always been one. Or at least there was a pent-up demand for one.
“Today, these five honorees come from companies with a combined market cap of around $200 billion. They employ nearly 100,000 people and growing. And they’re driving the innovation economy with wireless broadband few dreamed possible in the flip phone era,” Adelstein said. “These five leaders are inducted tonight because of their foresight, their vision, and their tenacity. Each faced down challenges — and overcame them all.”
Gathering the top wireless CEOs and others at a ballroom in Washington D.C. on a Wednesday night in mid-November to honor its best had another altruistic goal. It raised $500 thousand for the WIA Foundation in support of training, education and apprenticeships.
“Tonight, the [inductees] lend us their presence because each believes — with us — that another challenge lies ahead for the wireless industry. To build world-class 5G networks — we need a world-class 5G workforce. Together, we’re taking steps to meet that challenge — building a workforce that’s worthy of this great industry,” Adelstein said.
The evening was attended by such notables as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Commissioners Michael O’Rielly and Brendan Carr, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, and other guests from the FCC, Congress and the Administration.
The inaugural class of Hall of Fame inductees included: Neville Ray, CTO, T-Mobile; Steven Bernstein, founder, former CEO and current board member of SBA Communications; Steven Dodge, founder, former CEO, American Tower; John Kelly, former CEO, Crown Castle; and Jose Mas, CEO, MasTec Network Solutions.
John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile, lent his star power and sense of humor in a heartfelt tribute to Ray, who has 25 years of wireless experience and has led the carrier through the LTE roll out, from the zero POPs in 2012 to 324 million POPs today. The first 200 million POPs were built in six months. He also pushed new technology into the field, including Wi-Fi calling, VoLTE, License Assisted Access and 4X4 MIMO and 256 QAM.
“Neville Ray is truly a genius,” Legere said. “This is a guy that gets things done. You give him the goal and the resources, and you just know that it will be done. You get out of the way.” He joked that Ray’s budget of $50 billion also played a key role in the success. “Give the guy some cash and he makes it happen.” Ray later clarified that he only got $40 billion.
Jeffrey Stoops, president and CEO, SBA Communications, praised Bernstein’s decision-making ability and leadership qualities.
“He can quickly and incisively distill complex issues down to straightforward decisions has been a critical part of our success,” Stoops said. “More importantly, it’s his entrepreneurial spirit and his values, including honestly, integrity, fair play, quality, customer service and hard work, that Steve instilled in SBA that remains a driver of our continued growth and success.”
Jim Taiclet, chairman, president and CEO, American Tower, said Dodge has been a “true trailblazer” for the tower industry, and has served as innovator throughout his 40-year career, which included banking, media and telecom.
“He founded and took public three pioneering companies. The first was American Cable Systems, which he grew into an industry leading position and sold to Continental Cable. Then he went on to American Radio Systems, which was sold to CBS, and then American Tower Corporation. The only flaw in Steve’s plan was an apparent lack of creativity with company names.”
Ben Moreland, former CEO of Crown Castle, introduced Kelly as the “most wonderful person” he has ever known. Kelly served as a mentor to Moreland and “set a high bar as a humble leader and a really nice guy,” Moreland said. Kelly was CEO of Crown from 2001 to 2008 and remained on the board for a number of years afterward.
“He inspires people to be the best they can be,” Moreland said. “He instilled a very customer-centric focus that required us to always think about a win-win situation with the carriers.”
After Mas became CEO of MasTec, the company grew to 22,000 professionals nationwide, quadrupled its revenues, increased earnings six-fold, and reached a ranking of 428 in the Fortune 500, O’Rielly said in his introduction.
Additionally, Mas diversified MasTec beyond telecom construction into renewable energy, oil & gas and electric transmission, among others.
“Mr. Mas is not just as successful businessman. He is a long-time leader in the Miami-Dade United Way’s Toqueville Society, which donated $15 million to improve lives last year. Most recently Mas and his brother Jorge joined a consortium with David Beckham to raise $25 million to bring a new Major League Soccer team to Miami,” O’Reilly said.
Sprint doubled its network capex year-over-year up to $1.3 billion in the second quarter of its 2018 fiscal year as it increased the capacity of its network while still cutting costs by $100 million year over year, according to company officials in a Seeking Alpha transcript.
Sprint is in the middle of a two-to-three year burst of capex spend to cover the deployment of 2.5 GHz and nextgen technology. By improving its network, Sprint hopes to lower its churn, which is one of the highest in the industry, according to Michel Combes, Sprint CEO.
“So, with these 2.5 GHz deployments, what I expect the most is that it will help us to close the gap from a churn point of view and then our net adds profile should be much better,” Combes said. “Thanks to all of the investment we have done, we have been able to provide LTE Advanced on a nationwide basis.”
Sprint completed thousands of tri-band (850MHz / 1.9 GHz / 2.5GHz) upgrades during the quarter and now has 2.5 GHz spectrum deployed on 70 percent of its macro sites up from 50 percent year over year. Adding thousands of outdoor small cells, the carrier now has deployed 21,000 mini macros and strand mounts. Additionally, it continued commercial deployment of Massive MIMO radios, which increase the speed and capacity of the LTE network.
T-Mobile Rolls Out 600 MHz at ‘Furious’ Pace, Preps for 5G
Driven by the 600 MHz rollout, T-Mobile’s spent $1.4 billion on capex in the third quarter, with full year capex numbers expected at the high end of the carrier’s guidance range of $4.9 billion to $5.3 billion. As a result, so far, T-Mobile has deployed 600 MHz in 1,500 cities across 37 states, including Puerto Rico, or 291 million pops, according to John Legere, T-Mobile CEO in a Seeking Alpha transcript.
“We continue to expand coverage with industry leading performance,” Legere said. “We continue to aggressively roll out low-band spectrum, with our 700 MHz deployment virtually complete and our 600 MHz deployment continuing at a furious pace.”
All of the 600 MHz network hardware that T-Mobile is deploying is upgradeable to 5G with a software update. Plus, it plans to have global standards-based 5G equipment deployed in six of the top 10 markets, including New York and Los Angeles, by the end of the year so that the network will be ready for the introduction of the 5G smartphones in 2019, according to Legere.
“We plan on the delivery of a nationwide 5G network in 2020 and we’re building 5G with global standards-based equipment, the true 5G. And through our pending merger with Sprint, we will be able to deliver a 5G performance capability well beyond what either company can deliver on a standalone basis,” Legere said. “I mean, obviously, we are incredibly focused on the combination with Sprint and the 5G opportunity. We can deliver through that combination is unique. It’s incredibly compelling. It’s going to bring a level of 5G capability and service to the U.S. market that nobody can do on their own.”
T-Mobile and CBS Television Stations have completed the accelerated repack of WLNY-TV’s 600 MHz spectrum on portions of Long Island and the surrounding area that extends into Brooklyn and Queens. WLNY moved to its new spectrum frequency earlier this month, more than a year sooner than the August 2019 FCC deadline. This agreement enables T-Mobile to enhance LTE coverage and capacity in the New York City area more quickly.
“Partnering with WLNY allows us to clear spectrum and bring 600 MHz LTE to customers in New York City as quickly as possible,” said Neville Ray, CTO at T-Mobile. “The T-Mobile team is deploying 600 MHz LTE across the country at record pace and we’re laying the foundation for 5G in NYC by deploying 600 MHz with 5G-ready gear.”
As a result of the 600 MHz spectrum auction last year, broadcasters using 600 MHz spectrum will move to new frequencies to allow wireless companies, like T-Mobile, to access the spectrum and repurpose it for new and expanded wireless services across the country.
“We are happy to report the move of WLNY 10/55 to its new frequency was seamless,” said Peter Dunn, President, CBS Television Stations. “It was a pleasure to partner with our friends at T-Mobile and be ahead of the curve in terms of serving our viewers.”
This agreement is part of T-Mobile’s broader commitment to work with broadcasters on 600 MHz spectrum to assist them in moving to new frequencies. In the last year, T-Mobile announced several similar partnerships to assist stations in the move to new airwaves.
This agreement accelerates the Un-carrier’s rollout of 600 MHz Extended Range LTE, which travels twice as far and works four times better in buildings than mid-band spectrum, while laying the foundation for 5G in the New York City area. T-Mobile plans to light up 600 MHz LTE in this cleared spectrum in early 2019.
John Legere always talks a good game. Sometimes it is tough separating the hype from reality, however. Last week, he continued to make his case for T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint, promising faster speeds, lower costs and increased employment in a blog. The merged company will invest nearly $40 billion and will have spectrum and capacity needed for a “broad and deep” nationwide 5G network, the T-Mobile CEO said. Rural coverage will be a big emphasis, he said, which should get the support of Congress.
He said the merged company will provide 5G speeds that are five times faster than the LTE speeds by 2021, while increasing LTE speeds.
“At full deployment the New T-Mobile will deliver fiber-like speeds. I’m talking about average speeds at a blazing 444 Mbps, covering about two-thirds of the country, with jaw-dropping peak speeds up to 4.1 Gbps!!” Legere said.
One of the merger tests that the New T-Mobile must pass is whether their marriage of the two wireless companies will reduce competition and increase costs to the consumer. Legere held that costs will actually go down.
“Analysis by renowned economist Dr. David Evans concludes that the building of the New T-Mobile 5G network will provoke competitive responses from Verizon and AT&T that will result in a decrease in the cost of a gigabit of up to 55 percent and over a 120 percent increase in mobile data supply for all wireless customers,” he said.
Addressing concerns that large swathes of America are unserved or underserved, he said that the merger will result in mobile broadband speeds in excess of 100 Mbps to roughly two-thirds of the population in just a few years and 90 percent of the country by 2024.
“This deal enables New T-Mobile to increase coverage in rural America and create more competition for wireless, broadband and beyond. Case in point: we estimate that 20-25 percent of those new broadband subscribers will be located in rural areas,” Legere said.
As opposed reducing jobs, which most mergers do through taking advantage of synergies, Legere plans on creating 3,000 direct jobs in the first year, increasing to more than 9,600 direct and indirect jobs by 2021 and more than 11,000 by 2024.
“Every day we will have more jobs as the New T-Mobile than the two stand-alone companies would have on their own,” he said. “As we build out our new 5G network and bring these services to all parts of the country we will create thousands of job opportunities.”
No one knows if the Federal Trade Commission will okay the merger, but Legere checks all the boxes that regulators will scrutinize. The merger will increase competition with Verizon and AT&T, he said, lowering consumer costs and establishing competition in rural areas, in places where it doesn’t exist today. And increased employment would be the frosting on the cake. For the wireless infrastructure industry, the promise of a $40 billion capex infusion might be enough to take the sting out of the planned decrease in towers.