T-Mobile’s 5G Home Internet offerings could be coming to new areas soon.
Earlier this week, Congress passed the 5G Spectrum Authority Licensing Enforcement (SALE) Act, which temporarily restores the Federal Communications Commission’s authority to dole out spectrum won from an auction held last year. Once President Joe Biden signs it into law, the agency will be able to release a valuable swath of 2.5 Ghz spectrum to T-Mobile, which will boost the speed and capacity of its network, and enable it to offer 5G home internet to more markets.
Light Reading first reported on the passage of the bill.
T-Mobile getting the additional spectrum, which it spend $304 million for in a 2022 auction, could help it extend the lead of its 5G home internet service even further against cable. According to consumer insights firm, Horowitz Research, 5G wireless home internet is a “competitive threat” to traditional broadband providers. Despite 5G’s overall low market penetration rate in the U.S., many consumers are interested in the technology and plan to try it out.
While T-Mobile is benefiting now, Congress still needs to vote to give FCC full authority again if wants future spectrum deployed. The SALE Act, sponsored by Sen. John Kennedy, offers a slight reprieve, and only applies to prior auctions. There’s a larger political and technical battle that has left the FCC without the power to manage spectrum auctions, which it’s had for three decades. The crux of the issue was the Defense Department and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration needing more time to conduct a test of potential interference with a specific band of spectrum, but because Senate talks over an extension stalled, leaving the agency stuck in limbo.
T-Mobile had been advocating for a solution. With this 2.5 GHz spectrum, T-Mobile will be able to expand its 5G Home Internet service into new areas that don’t have its 5G Home Internet service, helping bring new competition to home internet to more areas. The company has said that it chooses places where it has excess capacity to offer home internet service, so the added radio airwaves expands those areas.
In October, the mobile carrier reported it added 557,000 5G Home Internet customers in the third quarter of 2023 alone. In the same month, T-Mobile said it had expanded its 5G Ultra Capacity network to more than 98% of the American population. The upgraded network — completed ahead of schedule — will offer better network speeds for 5G home internet and mobile devices.
On the mobile side, the spectrum will also help with overall coverage and speed. T-Mobile has one of the strongest 5G offers available to customers today. Earlier this year, Opensignal reported that T-Mobile had the best overall network performance and 5G performance as well as fastest download speeds, best overall live video experience, best overall consistent quality, and best 5G availability.