T-Mobile pledges to change ‘cableopoly’ with in-home broadband service

T-Mobile released a few more details—albeit in a heavily redacted FCC filing—about its plans to offer a fixed in-home broadband service if it gets the green light to merge with Sprint. 

“With the New T-Mobile and our unique 5G capabilities, we’ll be able to offer a fast and reliable alternative for in-home broadband—yes, a real alternative option!,” declared CEO John Legere in a blog post. “And we aren’t just going to offer a new alternative; … we are going to change it the same way we changed wireless! Aggressive prices, rapid innovation, listening to customers and fixing what’s broken.”

In its filing (PDF), T-Mobile provides a more detailed description of its proposed new in-home service—which it tags with the snazzy name “New T-Mobile Home Internet”—that will initially launch using a 4G router operating on T-Mobile’s LTE network. The anticipated cost of the router is redacted, but it will be provided to customers of the Home Internet service at no extra charge. Shortly after the merger, the router will be upgraded to include Sprint’s 2.5 GHz spectrum and 5G compatible hardware.

The router is also expected to include mesh network capabilities to enable advanced Wi-Fi connections with multiple network nodes to enhance quality as well as phone and video features. The initial cost of the 5G router is also redacted, but that cost is expected to decline with volume. As with the LTE router, it will be provided to customers at no extra charge. 

Legere said that with the New T-Mobile and 5G, it will be able to deliver improved broadband connectivity at a lower price—including for rural consumers. “A low-cost structure means we can aggressively price this service below what in-home broadband providers typically charge today (assuming they provide service in an area at all)!,” he wrote. “There will be a simple monthly price, no annual service contract, no extra charge for the router, no installation charges, and no surprises.”

Interestingly, self-installation appears to be a key attribute of the service right out of the gate. T-Mobile said the Home Internet router will be delivered to the customer for self-installation, and the self-install process will be aided by a mobile app to guide the customer in setting up the system and finding the optimal router location in their residence. (In contrast, Verizon’s 5G Home service uses a white-glove approach to ensure the equipment is placed in the right place for the best quality service.) 

To identify potential customers, New T-Mobile promises to have a simple “enter an address” function on its website through which a customer can get qualified. It also pledges to offer a simple monthly price below incumbent provider prices; no contract; and customer care from the “Magenta Glove Team.” 

“What T-Mobile has done for mobile wireless consumers, New T-Mobile will do for in-home broadband consumers. The combined company will be relentless in removing customer pain points and changing the things people hate about their in-home broadband service,” T-Mobile said in its filing, submitted by DLA Piper partner Nancy Victory, a former assistant secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information at NTIA. 

T-Mobile emphasized that millions of American households—over 6.6 million—do not have access to in-home broadband. But the “un-carrier” is promising to bring broadband speeds in excess of 100 Mbps to about half of the U.S. geography and nearly 90% of its population by 2024. 

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Of course, this isn’t the first time T-Mobile has talked about its ability to serve U.S. households with a fixed 5G service, although it has historically been less gung-ho about it than some of its rivals. It was discussed in its initial Public Interest Statement (PDF) last year, and the company said during its fourth-quarter earnings call last month that it was going to begin piloting home broadband offers based on LTE this year.