T-Mobile amped up the sales pressure for its $50-per-month home internet service today with a package of promotions the company calls “Internet Freedom” but which really look like a way to remind folks that the new ISP is out there.
The carrier’s new promotion, available today, includes a 15-day, no-commitment “test drive” to see if it works for you; $500 in early termination fees for another ISP; a fixed $50/month price for the life of your plan; a lower $30/month price if you’re a Magenta Max plan holder; and a $50 streaming stick from Amazon, Google, or Roku.
The service is truly unlimited, says T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert. Most customers use 300GB to 400GB per month with 10% using more than 1TB; that’s in line with Comcast’s median usage of 355GB per month.
The all-inclusive, non “ballooning” price is a big selling point for T-Mobile’s home internet system. Most cable and fiber plans hike their prices after the first two years, or at least maintain the liberty to do so. “You aren’t locked in for one or two years, you’re locked in for as long as you’re a customer on this plan,” according to Sievert, who says the service is now available to 40 million US homes, or about a third of the population.
“Our nationwide average [speed] is 140Mbps,” Sievert says. “When you look at the top 75% of our customers, it matches cable at 165Mbps. It’s a competitive service that’s already resulting in Net Promoter scores 3 times higher than the cable companies.”
What About T-Mobile Coverage?
When we tested T-Mobile Home Internet last year, we found that it’s a great value but extremely dependent on T-Mobile’s coverage and capacity. That’s the tricky bit. While wired ISP service is binary—you have it or you don’t—whether or not you’re eligible for T-Mobile Home is dependent on the invisible math of whether the carrier thinks it has enough free space on a cell sector.
In terms of extending coverage, T-Mobile execs wanted to make clear that they’re working on it. They promised 10,000 additional macro cell sites this year
For capacity, T-Mobile is consolidating its mid-band spectrum holdings to get to 200MHz in some areas, and looking at starting to refarm 4G spectrum over to 5G to ensure capacity continues to be available.
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Between existing 4G spectrum and new purchases such as C-band and 3.45GHz, “we have massive amounts of spectrum that aren’t on 5G,” Sievert says.
T-Mobile’s standalone 5G core makes it possible to set aside spectrum for new 5G home broadband technologies, such as network slicing, execs say, but that shift doesn’t sound imminent. Execs insist they had so much free capacity it wasn’t needed yet.
If people in weak signal areas want to use external antennas to boost their signal, Sievert is not against the idea, although T-Mobile didn’t seem to have any hard plans to promote that equipment.
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