T-Mobile logo in the sky by drones

T-Mobile’s current market share in rural areas is in the low teens. But CEO Mike Sievert expects that to rise to the 20% level “in our planning horizon.” The T-Mobile network “will be the demonstrable leader in rural areas,” Sievert told investors in a question-and-answer session at a virtual investor conference yesterday.

T-Mobile’s rural market share is already growing. A few years ago, it was in the single digits, according to Sievert. The forecast to reach the 20% level may be conservative because “we have the best value and the best network,” Sievert said.

T-Mobile has been known as a disruptive force in the mobile market since it adopted the “Un-carrier” moniker several years ago. But now that the company has widely deployed 5G using the 2.5 GHz mid-band spectrum it acquired when it merged with Sprint and now that it has filled out its LTE coverage, the company is also claiming the best network crown.

Sievert noted that T-Mobile’s competitive position varies from one rural market to another, however.

“We class every location” based on the extent to which “we have a full license to win,” he said.

What constitutes a license to win?

Sievert declined to provide details, but said the company considered the network and other factors such as “distribution readiness” in assessing a market’s potential.

Sievert made his comments at the J.P. Morgan Technology, Media and Communications Conference.

T-Mobile made a wide range of commitments involving rural areas as a condition of regulatory approval of the Sprint merger, which means that the company’s focus on rural areas is not discretionary but mandatory.

The company’s rural plans not only include mobile but also fixed wireless. The company last month made 5G Home Internet fixed wireless available to 30 million U.S. households, including 10 million in rural areas.

At that time the company also launched what it calls “T-Mobile Hometown” — an initiative that will bring T-Mobile retail stores to hundred of small towns over the next two years.

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One thought on “CEO: T-Mobile Network Will be the “Demonstrable Leader” in Rural Areas

  1. This is a very admirable goal, but based on my experience with T-Mobile’s 5G 600 MHz product in my area, the western half of Oklahoma, where T-Mobile has upgraded every site to 5G now, but has no Band 41 5G at all, they have a LOT to do in terms of performance and site density before 5G will be a viable service.

    T-Mobile’s sites contain Band 2 for LTE and Band 71 for 5G. One would think that the low-frequency 5G would be usable much farther than LTE but it is not. 5G signal level drops off quite significantly more than 2 miles from a site, and then LTE will kick in 5 miles from the site, leaving a gap of 3-4 miles before 5G will kick on again when you make contact with the next site. This is all counter-intuitive when you consider that T-Mobile is claiming that 600 MHz is their 5G service with the farthest reach and coverage. But when your phone only has 1 bar of T-Mobile 60 MHz 5G 4 miles from a site while a Verizon phone will still show 4 bars of 700 Mhz LTE service at the same distance from the same tower, there is something wrong, or 5G does not travel as far as LTE, or that T-Mobile is doing something very different than Verizon.

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