T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray made it a point during an interview with PC Mag to underline the company’s recent pledge that it will not raise prices for at least three years if its colossal merger with Sprint is ultimately approved by regulators and allowed to proceed. CEO John Legere, who is set to lead the combined company, made that vow in a letter to FCC chairman Ajit Pai earlier this month. Ray directly confirmed that Legere’s remarks will also apply to 5G data plans.
T-Mobile will continue to offer unlimited data for 5G, Ray said, once the carrier’s network is up and running with devices that can take advantage of the increased speeds and reduced latency of 5G. The company’s current T-Mobile One unlimited plan starts at $70 with taxes and other fees included, so presumably that’s also where 5G will start if T-Mobile stays true to Legere’s word. The upgraded T-Mobile One Plus plan (with HD streaming and LTE hotspot speeds) starts at $85/month, so that’s another possibility.
Earlier this week, T-Mobile set expectations for when consumers can expect to see that 5G network go live in earnest: it’ll be sometime in the second half of 2019. “We can do stuff in the first half,” Ray told PC Mag. “We’re going to have devices and we’re going to have network. But how material is it? I don’t think anything from AT&T or Verizon will be material until the time frames we’re putting out. Ray suggested that all carriers are still ironing out the kinks in their underlying 5G infrastructure.
Sprint has already announced a more specific window for the launch of its own 5G network: it’ll be switched on this May in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Kansas City before expanding to Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, and Washington DC — all in the first half of this year, the company claims.
It’s going to take a good long while for all of the major US carriers to reach nationwide 5G coverage. By that time, T-Mobile will already be well into its three-year window of no price hikes. The carrier has said it aims to “blanket the country” with 5G by the end of 2020.
Samsung has already acknowledged that the Galaxy S10 5G will be coming to both carriers after its exclusivity window with Verizon comes to an end. LG also has a 5G phone coming — the V50 ThinQ — but Ray said T-Mobile remains undecided on whether it will carry that device.