T-Mobile Seeing “Fabulous” Demand for Fixed Wireless

T-Mobile finished 2022 strong in terms of adding fixed wireless access (FWA) subscribers and it expects that to continue into 2023, said Peter Osvaldik, T-Mobile US’ EVP/CFO, on Wednesday at Citi’s 2023 Communications, Media & Entertainment Conference in Scottsdale, AZ. Although a majority of the FWA growth is from consumers, businesses continue to increase their use of the high-speed internet product.

“The demand is fabulous for the high-speed internet product. We’re seeing [FWA] spread across rural and urban areas,” Osvaldik said. “I would suspect the mix will shift a little bit more to the rural and suburban portions of smaller markets as the network build continues to progress there.”

T-Mobile is using the excess capacity of its network to provide fixed wireless. In other words, when the carrier determines that postpaid phones cannot fill up the capacity of the system, then additional households will be approved in the sector to use fixed wireless. “We look at every site on a sector by sector basis,” Osvaldik said. “We’re modeling out what the projected growth is from postpaid phones, which is what we’re protecting at all costs.”

T-Mobile’s current 120 MHz of mid-band spectrum position is expected to grow to 200 MHz by the end of 2023. This will mean more room for additional fixed wireless users on the system. “[The spectrum deployment] creates a tremendous amount of capacity,” Osvaldik said, “even with our projected growth and postpaid phone and other connected devices growth.”

T-Mobile’s fixed wireless access net additions of 578,000 hit another record high in the third quarter, which was more than AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Charter combined. The carrier noted that growth in adds came from outside its current customer base. More than 2.1 million customers were provided FWA by T-Mobile at the end of 3Q22. 

“The demand for the product is really strong. The NPS [net promoter scores] prove that out and as more capacity continues to build, this is right about the pace that we want, which is 500,000 adds per quarter,” Osvaldik said.

By J. Sharpe Smith, Inside Towers Technology Editor

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