T-Mobile US executive: 5G FWA has arrived

Outgoing T-Mobile US President of Technology Neville Ray reflects on the company’s network journey, see “a lot of opportunity ahead for the business” 

Recalling his career in the U.S. wireless industry, T-Mobile US President of Technology Neville Ray said he’s been, in some ways, working on the same network for nearly three decades. “The last three years, as we’ve combined Sprint and T-Mobile together, have been the most rewarding period in my career,” he said at the recent Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference. 

That network combines the former Sprint’s 2.5 GHz spectrum with T-Mobile US’s 600 MHz into what is by many benchmarks the most performant network in the country. Ray noted that 320 million people were covered on the Standalone 5G low-band network, and 265 million on mid-band. He also said the operator has an average of 150 megahertz of 2.5 GHz spectrum deployed, and will move that to 200 megahertz by year end, as well as adding PCS and AWS holdings. 

It’s a “great way to wrap up a career,” he said. Ray is set to exit his post later this year with current Chief Network Officer Ulf Ewaldsson taking over. Ray expressed his confidence in the continued development of the network. “I think I leave the place in way better condition than when I started, which is what you always want to do in a job, in a career.” 

The outlook for 5G FWA

T-Mobile US has used its fallow spectrum to enter the home broadband market with a 5G-backed fixed wireless access offering. Ray retired the goal of 7 to 8 million households by 2025, and noted the current count of 2.6 million. In terms of the sustainability of that plan with regard to increasing usage of mobile data, he said he’s “very comfortable” with the projection…I’m very comfortable with our capacity story.” 

Looking further out, Ray said, “I want to find new ways outside of the fallow spectrum model we have to grow that business.” He threw out mmWave and new deployment models as under consideration. “I’d love to bring that to the market in another aggressive and competitive play…We’re getting very confident now we can make those economics work and that model be very accretive to the business.” 

Big picture on fixed wireless access: “Clearly, it’s arrived. And it’s the most formative, declarative 5G use case. Many folks are looking at us…with how we’ve driven 5G network capability into new business. A lot of operators, globally, I think, are trying to figure out what’s that fixed wireless access formula?”

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