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BARCELONA-Neville Ray always gives me equal. T-Mobile's CTO has struggled with when the company's 5G network should start, giving some mixed signals that led to confusion.
"We want to do something in the first half [of 2019]," Ray said. "We're still trying to try and experiment."
The reason for the date confusion has to do with spectrum licenses and chipset availability. During the first half of the year, the only mobile phone chips available will not support T-Mobile's 600 MHz network. But they will support its limited 28 GHz, short-range, millimeter wave spectrum positions.
T-Mobile has millimeter wave in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Ohio and a few other places; they could potentially cover about 100 million people, Ray said. And T-Mobile wants the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, though Ray said the company has not made a decision on the LG V50.
But Ray holds back from giving a hard date as Sprint has promised to start four cities in May because he says the available millimeter wave base station hardware is still working out kinks. He was amazed when AT&T apparently launched in December with the same hardware T-Mobile, he said.
"The software quality was incredibly poor, the distribution was very limited, and the number of customers you could support on a given radio was de minimis," he said. "There has been software coming out every two to four weeks and it doesn't mature until the end of this quarter."
AT & T has not allowed any independent testers to view or use its 5G hotspots, and it has said it will make the network publicly available in retail sales at the end of the quarter. So it checks out.
But Ray also cuts AT&T and Verin's refusal to offer cover cards and says he will launch 5G in a broad way that would actually encourage many people to use it.
"We can do things in the first half. We must have devices and we must have networks. But where the material is?" Ray mused. "I don't think anything from AT&T or Verizon will be significant until the timeframes we set out," he added, meaning later this year.
T-Mobile's low-band launch will come at the end of this year, but perhaps not much before. When pressed, Ray would only say he would start when phones are available on Qualcomm's upcoming X55 chipset, which would be "the other half" according to him.
I've heard whispering here at MWC that the "second half" may be as late as November, but Ray wouldn't say anything other than "the other half."
A firmer promise he was willing to make: 5G service plans will be unlimited and they will not be more expensive than T-Mobile's existing 4G service plans, at least for three years. This means that an unlimited 5G plan will cost no more than $ 70 per day. Line. AT&T also plans to charge $ 70 to use its 5G hotspot, but it has a 15GB data cap.
Ray's promise clarifies T-Mobile CEO John Leger's promise not to raise rates for three years by making it clear that the mortgage also applies to 5G plans.
Will it be unlimited? "Absolutely," he said.
This article was originally published on PCMag