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T-Mobile has big goals for enhancing connectivity in rural America

Neville Ray, president of technology of T-Mobile US, Inc. recently spoke at the USB Future of 5G Event and expressed the carriers’ desire to deliver reliable connectivity across the United States, especially the rural parts of the country.

“We have huge ambitions to really grow this business in a traditional sense in rural America,” Ray said at the event. “We see a huge growth vector for this company, in small town and rural areas across the United States, where we under index today. It’s a big growth vector for us. It’s a super compelling one. And it also supports so many of the use cases that we’ve talked about in 5G over the years, especially when it comes to IoT.”

Ray also shared T-Mobile’s status on its extended range low-band rollout. He described the carrier’s 5G rollout as being on a “tremendous pace.” T-Mobile’s extended range low-band footprint that is supported on its 600-megahertz spectrum is approaching coverage for 300 million people.

“Why do I mention that? I mean, that’s super important,” Ray said. “That’s a subtending foundational layer of many of the things we’ll talk about, when we get to the combination of the layers in the cake and mid-band with uplink from low-band. We’re delighted with our progress. And the fact of it is we’ve been working at that for several years now. We started that 600-megahertz deployment almost three years ago, post the 600-megahertz auction.”

Ray did not hesitate to call out Verizon and AT&T, T-Mobile’s primary competitors. He noted that they, “(are) a long way from where we are today.” According to Ray, T-Mobile’s almost 300 million people reached and the 1.6 million square miles the carrier covers is more than the other two carries combined on 5G.

“When you think about what’s going to happen with 5G, the expansion and capabilities of 5G in rural America, the use cases that can be supported on that, when you think about a voice layer on 5G, all of those things, it’s super important to have a very large subtending 5G layer across the nation,” he said.

“Our competition is pretty silent on that. That low-band topic and that breadth of coverage is something that’s missing from really the announced plans of our competition.

“And if you look at the footprints that they have on 5G primarily today, they’re supported on a shared spectrum strategy with LTE and dynamic spectrum sharing. And, of course, DSS is a good tool in the toolkit, but for us, I mean, we’re leveraging fallow spectrum from the 600-megahertz auction. So, there is a material difference between the 5G footprint we’re laying out on low-band compared to our competition.”

Looking forward, Ray believes T-Mobile is still on track to reach 200 million people on its 2.5 GHz spectrum by the end of 2021.

“We’re super excited about bringing a nationwide that will allow us to have a nationwide claim on Ultra Capacity 5G,” he said. “Two hundred million people is a massive milestone for us. As we roll out more network, we densify the footprint. And, of course, we add more spectrum to that 2.5 gigahertz layer.

And the great news is that more and more customers every day are starting to feel and benefit from that experience. And that to me is ultimately that’s the real 5G experience.”

Joe Dyton can be reached at

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