Why T-Mobile’s CEO Doesn’t See 5G Home Internet Replacing Cable




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T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert.

The number of new customers signing up for 5G home internet service is expanding so rapidly that it’s essentially outstripped total broadband growth. Given that trajectory, it’s easy to assume that everyone will eventually have a 5G home internet connection.

But Mike Sievert, the CEO of T-Mobile, the leader in 5G home internet service, doesn’t see it taking over cable and fiber.

“We won’t change the broadband world with the offer,” Sievert said at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia and Technology conference on Wednesday. “We’re co-existing with cable.”

While his comments diminish some of the enthusiasm around 5G home internet service, they underscore the limitations that the offering faces in the market. It’s a reminder that physical internet infrastructure, whether its cable or fiber-optic lines, will be with us for a long time.

Sievert said the company expects the business to hit single-digit millions in terms of penetration. The company is already well on its way, with a base of 3.7 million 5G home internet customers as of the second quarter.

But T-Mobile is only deploying in areas where it has excess wireless capacity, and where there aren’t congested areas for smartphone service. Sievert said the company is looking at how it could invest in more infrastructure and different technologies to expand its reach, but said they haven’t found a financially responsible way to do it.

“We want to be careful about dispensing capital in things that don’t have great returns,” he said, before adding, “We’re not done looking.”

On the momentum of the business, Sievert said the momentum has been easy to capture. “A lot of people don’t like cable companies,” he said. “That’s something we’re feeding on.”

Just don’t hold your breath if you’re expecting T-Mobile to show up in your area with an alternative. It may never happen.

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