During its virtual analyst event today, T-Mobile outlined some bold plans for expanding its 5G coverage and speeding up its current offerings. The company says that by the end of 2023, it will cover 90 percent of Americans (about 300 million) with what it calls Ultra Capacity 5G (its faster mid-band and mmWave service). It also plans to cover 97 percent of Americans (approximately 320 million) by the end of 2022 with its slower low-band 5G, which it calls Extended Range. Currently, 125 million are covered by Ultra Capacity, with Extended Range covering 287 million.
Additionally, those currently covered by Ultra Capacity 5G will see an increase in average speeds from 300Mbps up to 400Mbps, thanks to additional megahertz devoted to 5G, and T-Mobile says that more speed increases are on the way. This portion of T-Mobile’s 5G service is largely based on spectrum acquired from its Sprint merger, with mid-band frequencies well-suited to faster speeds and broad coverage.
Already having access to those mid-band frequencies allowed T-Mobile to take a less aggressive approach to the recent FCC C-band auction, a fact it celebrated throughout its investor call today. T-Mobile says its comparatively low bid of $9.3 billion (Verizon and AT&T bid $45.4 and $23.4 billion, respectively) went toward spectrum that would strategically supplement its current 2.5GHz holdings. Those frequencies will become available in 2023 and likely figure into the latter part of the company’s aggressive expansion plans.
Correction March 11th, 4:32PM PT: Verizon and AT&T bid $45.4 and $23.4 billion respectively in the recent FCC auction. A previous version of this article said that the companies bid $45.4 and $23.4 million, which would have been quite a steal.