t-mobile 5G tower

Unserved and underserved markets comprise the majority of the opportunity that T-Mobile sees for the 5G fixed wireless broadband offering that the company expects to launch later this month, explained company executives at a virtual investor conference today.

The company also sees an opportunity to sell the offering in markets that already have competitive broadband choices. T-Mobile expects to have 500,000 customers for the fixed wireless service by the end of the year and to have 7 to 8 million customers for the service within five years.

The T-Mobile will not require a service contract on the 5G fixed wireless offering and the offering will not include equipment rentals or fees, explained Dow Draper, T-Mobile executive vice president of emerging products, on the webcast. Customers will install the required equipment themselves.

“They will plug in the router, download an app and go,” said Draper.

T-Mobile has tested the fixed wireless concept with an offering based on LTE technology in certain markets and has received very positive feedback from users on the offering, Draper said.

The company has just over 100,000 customers for the offering and has found that average customer usage is in the hundreds of gigabytes per month. Just over a third (35%) of pilot applicants had no previous relationship with T-Mobile, he noted.

T-Mobile Fixed Wireless Forecast

About 5% to 10% of the target customers for the T-Mobile 5G fixed wireless offering are in what Draper called “left behind” areas – smaller, more rural markets that have poor broadband options or no broadband options at all.

At least half and as much as 60% of the target market is comprised of households in areas with limited competition – just a single high-speed broadband provider.

The remaining 35% to 40% of T-Mobile’s target market is comprised of what Draper called “well served” areas where, according to Draper, the company expects existing T-Mobile mobile service customers to be attracted by the brand, by the ability to bundle services and by the company’s excellent customer service.

T-Mobile Home Internet Market Types (Source: T-Mobile presentation)

The rural areas are where T-Mobile would seem to have the greatest opportunity, however – for both its fixed and mobile offerings. While the company currently has about a 30% share of the wireless market overall, its share in rural areas is in the low double digits, according to the company. The company expects to see its share rise to about 20% in those areas within five years.

To support this goal, the company plans to open retail outlets in small and rural markets. In addition, the company has made deals with Best Buy and Walmart to carry some T-Mobile offerings such as Metro by T-Mobile.

Executives at today’s event didn’t detail whether these retailers would also sell the fixed wireless offering. They noted, though, that 1,000 of more than 2,200 Walmart locations that will carry T-Mobile are in rural areas.

The news about T-Mobile’s 5G fixed wireless plans comes just one day after Verizon  raised its own 5G fixed wireless forecast and its own virtual analyst meeting. The company expects to get at least a 20% share of a 50 million-household addressable market by 2025 – a forecast that is quite similar to T-Mobile’s, although T-Mobile appears to be targeting broader geographic coverage.

T-Mobile said today that it expects to have mobile 5G available to 97% of the U.S. population by the end of 2022 and according to executives today, the mobile 5G network has plenty of capacity to also support fixed service.

Slides from the T-Mobile virtual analyst event are available at this link.

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6 thoughts on “T-Mobile 5G Fixed Wireless to Launch Soon, Eyes Rural Expansion

  1. It is quite noble for T-Mobile and Verizon to now begin to express a desire to serve rural and small town areas with home broadband service. T-Mobile has actually done a pretty good job in expanding their coverage in rural areas, but they still do not have the density of infrastructure necessary to provide a good blanket of coverage. None of the carriers do.

    The panacea for rural and small town folks who want fast home broadband will be Starlink. Starting out with data rates around 100 Mbps and promising to increase that to around 300 Mbps, and available EVERYWHERE that has a view of the sky, Starlink will be what blows the urban/rural digital divide completely away. And it very well could begin this year, definitely in 2022. Not 4-5 years down the road as the cellular carriers say their products will be available.

    1. Except Star Link is more expensive, mildly faster and you have to pay nearly 500 dollars to get the equipment. Star Link is DOA unless they get competitive.

      1. “Mildly faster”? Most rural folks would be absolutely thrilled to get 100 Mbps home broadband after living with 3-5 Mbps all this time, or less, from whatever provider they MIGHT have access to, if any even exists, which in most places does not. Current satellite-based services like HughesNet etc offer nowhere close to that number, and at the same price as Starlink, so when Starlink does incease to 300 Mbps the value will be even better. No other current rural broadband provider offers anything close to 100 Mbps right now either. Rural DSL is a joke, rural wifi has no range, rural microwave can be blocked by anything, Starlink has none of those limitations.

        Check out all the YouTube videos that have appeared since Starlink went public with their beta, that show the simple installation and the quality of the service so far. Not one is unimpressed with it, not a single one, when they compare it to what they have been stuck with previously.

  2. Here in Central Louisiana out in the sticks the nearest tower is two miles away and was T-tmobile home internet was available it worked fine for a week the slow speeds and almost no upload. Having called a few times was told the nearest T-Mobile tower was 6 miles away and there are no plans to extend the service and basically I was told put up with the 3 mbps service or send the box back. There are two people with the home internet in my area I would love to know who the other person is and find out what they were told. Like I said customer service for home internet said there are no plan to extend the service so I guess we are screwed for now.

    1. I know it sucks, I have the greatest sympathy for your situation. But you are the perfect case for Starlink. Once the satellites are in place to provide service that far south, you will be in tall cotton with fantastic home broadband service. The chances of any carrier building any new cell sites are slim, I don’t care what they say about adding thousands of sites per year, they are talking about urban sites and small sites and the like. Places where putting up a 100 foot monopole in an urban area can fill a gap and get them 100 new subscribers. Hang in there, your chance is coming in a year or so.

  3. I actually just signed up for Starlink today so that I can get my service as soon as possible once it becomes available here. I live in a very rural area in Gloucester VA, and satellite is our only option. Currently I to have both Hughes net and Viasat, and I still tend to end up having to buy extra data by the end of the month. And the latency issues make me want to pull my hair out. I pay for the highest tier options of both these services which cost me more than $500 a month. Once Starlink is available I will pay $500 once for the hardware and $99 a month for unlimited data and faster service. That’s a huge win for someone like myself where even the fixed wireless services are not an option.

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