Meet the T-Mobile executive in charge of fixed wireless

Dave Mayo is a T-Mobile veteran. He’s been with the company for more than two decades, and during the vast majority of that time he’s worked under T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray to improve and expand the operator’s wireless network.

But four months ago, Mayo received a new remit.

Mayo is now in charge of two key areas: the internet of things and fixed wireless. And he no longer reports to Ray; instead, he reports to T-Mobile’s Mike Sievert, who also received a promotion recently from chief operating officer to president.

Not surprisingly, Mayo is spending a lot of his time working on the IoT opportunity for T-Mobile. Just this week, he announced that T-Mobile’s NB-IoT service is now available nationwide.

But it’s the fixed wireless portion of Mayo’s job that’s particularly interesting. As Mayo explained, that business is closely tied to T-Mobile’s move to 5G and proposed merger with Sprint.

“We’re really trying to change the trajectory of where we’ve been in the past and do some things differently in anticipation of 5G [and] the transaction closing,” Mayo said. “With respect to fixed wireless, there's a pretty big dependency on the [Sprint] transaction closing. That's not to say that we couldn't do some things in very isolated places from a fixed wireless perspective [on our own], but certainly not something very significant in the grand scheme of things.”

But Mayo isn’t just sitting around waiting for T-Mobile’s transaction with Sprint to close. "In anticipation of the transaction closing, we want to kind of put the training wheels on and better understand that [fixed wireless] business, so that when the transaction closes, we're in a position to … really scale that business."

However, Mayo declined to provide any specifics on T-Mobile’s current fixed wireless work, including how many engineers might be dedicated to the effort and whether the operator is running tests.

"Infancy,” Mayo answered, when questioned about the details of his fixed wireless efforts. “I think to say anything beyond infancy would be a major disservice.”

Over the years, T-Mobile executives have offered a variety of statements on fixed wireless services. Last month, for example, T-Mobile promised to offer in-home, fixed wireless internet services to roughly 9.5 million American households by 2024, or about 13% of the country, if regulators approve the company’s transaction with Sprint. But T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray wrote in September 2016 that “Verizon’s grand vision [for 5G] is that you can cancel your fixed broadband and watch Netflix at home with wireless Verizon broadband. Double yawn. How disappointing! So little imagination from these supposed network leaders!” Ray noted though that fixed wireless is just one of many applications for 5G; Verizon executives have said the same.

T-Mobile isn’t the only wireless operator eyeing the fixed wireless opportunity. Verizon has said it will offer fixed wireless speeds up to 1 Gbps via its millimeter-wave spectrum. And C Spire, Windstream and others are also deploying various fixed wireless services.