T-Mobile hypes up network slicing prospects in 2024

  • Techsponential analyst Avi Greengart thinks slicing promises could finally become a reality

  • Commercial network slicing could be coming in 2024, more than three years after T-Mobile launched its first 5G SA network

  • CTO John Saw said that nearly a dozen vendors are developing video apps using slicing already

Techsponential lead analyst Avi Greengart said that T-Mobile is creeping towards making its most aggressive network slicing promises “real” as completes its 5G standalone (SA) deployment and tests millimeter (mmWave) slices.

T-Mobile was the first operator in the world to offer 5G SA nationwide on its slower 600 MHz network in early August 2020, beating even Chinese operators to the punch. It followed that up in November 2022, starting to move its faster 2.5 GHz mid-band 5G network to a standalone core. This was the first, crucial step in enabling cloud-native 5G and – with it – network slicing. Earlier this month, the operator announced it is testing SA on its mmWave network as well with Ericsson and Qualcomm. 

John Saw, EVP and CTO at T-Mobile, this week described the carrier as operating “largest 5G SA network in the country” in a blog. That means, as Greengart pointed out on LinkedIn, that it can actually start to deliver on the promises of network slicing.

Saw said that “nearly a dozen of the world's top video conferencing and calling companies are developing video calling applications using T-Mobile network slicing” thanks to a video communications slicing beta the operator launched in August and extended nationwide in September.

Of course, the CTO stressed that it is still “very early days” for network slicing but stated that T-Mobile is “the only provider poised to bring it to life at scale.” It should be noted that Verizon now has a similar slicing trial underway.

Slicing trials for specific tasks like remote surgery

Greengart noted that T-Mobile’s mmWave slicing trial, which is likely run on 28 GHz as the Magenta marauder holds plenty of those licenses, could eventually lead to “extremely fast reserved slices of the network dedicated to specific tasks like remote surgery.” Indeed, T-Mobile said in its mmWave SA trial announcement it hit download speeds of over 4 Gbps and uplink speeds of more than 400 Mbps. 

The analyst pointed to other potential use cases including broadcast, public safety and even self-driving cars, though he said of the latter "we need so much more to happen beyond the network for that to be a mainstream reality."

Expect a lot more promises around 5G network slicing from many operators as we move into Mobile World Congress season in late February 2024.