The Un-carrier Road to 5G. Spoiler Alert: The future kicks ass.

By Neville RaySeptember 19, 2016

This afternoon I’m delivering a keynote at the annual meeting of the Competitive Carriers Association. What a great opportunity to speak about the future of wireless with this group of like-minded wireless companies—our allies in the battle against the Duopoly!

Over the past year, just about everybody talking about the future of wireless has been talking about one thing: 5G. Though, until now, I’ve been pretty quiet on the subject while the standards are still being defined, and by my estimate—and that of every credible expert— true wireless 5G is still years away. Broad deployment should be here toward the end of the decade.

Still, that fact hasn’t stopped the carriers from making ridiculous promises to deliver 5G in 2017 and then having to run away from those promises. Watching all this nonsense, I’ve been amazed by the carriers’ complete lack of vision for 5G’s potential as well as their naiveté about how we’ll all get to 5G.

A Real Vision for 5G

The carriers’ vision for 5G’s potential is mind-numbingly limited. We are talking about amazing technology here, and they can’t see beyond their own self-interest. AT&T wants to “connect your world” by connecting your microwave and everything else in your life – including your bank account – to AT&T. Verizon’s grand vision is that you can cancel your fixed broadband and watch Netflix at home with wireless Verizon broadband. Double yawn.

How disappointing! So little imagination from these supposed network leaders!

Sure, broadband and IoT are exciting opportunities, and we will play there, too. But, 5G is NOT only about connected cities or refrigerators or wireless replacements to your perfectly good home broadband. 5G is about the absolutely amazing things we can do with mobile technology from virtually anywhere.  Our vision for 5G goes so much further than this!   We see5G completely transforming the mobile Internet and delivering amazing breakthroughs!

With incredibly low latency, very high bandwidth and sensors capable of decade-long battery life, 5G networks are set to enable one of the biggest tech transformations in history.

We see a 5G future where every major tech trend that sparks our imaginations – mobile virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and more – will all be made better and available on-the-go because of 5G. Just like 4G spawned the mobile-first Internet and gave rise to applications and devices that have literally changed the way the world communicates, 5G will unlock apps and solutions we can’t even imagine right now.

At T-Mobile, we will put 5G to work for people, like we always have with new technologies. And, true wireless 5G on our network has the potential to change things radically, accelerating long-term trends, creating immersive experiences and increasing mobile productivity and entertainment for everyone. When we talk about 5G, we need to really focus on those exciting areas 5G will revolutionize:

  • How will higher speed, massive capacity, lower latencies and increased battery life change the way we live our lives?
  • How will personal communication evolve with AR and VR that works great on-the-go?
  • Will we consume new content and communicate with new and compelling device formats?
  • What will happen with media and content – will it become truly mobile and follow you?
  • Will we create richer flows of data from ourselves for mobile health, personal security and more?

These are the kinds of questions we’re exploring. So today, we’re giving a glimpse into the kinds of experiences our 5G network will enable. Check it out….



Pretty cool, eh? We are building towards this future every single day, which brings me to my second point.

Building Towards 5G Every Damn Day

The carriers present 5G as some kind of research project that will emerge fully-formed from the lab at some point in the future. That’s utter BS. 5G is something we are building now. At T-Mobile, each and every new technology we roll out is building toward the future—toward 5G. Great 5G wireless will be anchored in and live alongside an amazingly advanced LTE network. And that is exactly where we’re focused. And, what a rock solid, ass-kicking foundation for 5G we are building at the Un-carrier.

We’ve built our network – and our entire network team – to advance faster than the carriers. T-Mobile is a mobile internet company, and our network is moving faster onto the same IP tech that runs the internet. Which means our network advances at internet speed.

That’s how we went from ZERO to covering nearly 312 million people with T-Mobile LTE in just about three years—all while remaining America’s Fastest 4G LTE network according to OpenSignal, Ookla and the FCC. That’s why nearly every meaningful network technology over the last three plus years has been available to Un-carrier customers first. And that’s why we continue to lead with the nation’s densest network and, most recently, three-carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO and 265 QAM.

Meanwhile, the carriers are mired in their telecom utility legacy, tangled in outdated tech and land lines, and buried under layer upon layer of bureaucratic BS and Old Economy thinking.

And, of course, we’re already doing all the same basic things for 5G they are. (We just spend our time doing. They spend their time talking about doing.) We’re already working with standards bodies, with the FCC on spectrum, with DT to tap into their global expertise and with Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung on early trials. In fact, today, I shared some of those early trial results. They’re impressive!  We’ve already demonstrated speeds up 12 Gbps with latency under 2 milliseconds, 8x8 MIMO and four simultaneous 4k video streams. 

No doubt about it. 5G will be amazing. And, we are all working with the same tools to get there. But, here’s the thing – it’s not about the tools. It’s about how you use them. What’s going to set 5G networks apart is how we put that amazing technology to work for our customers. That is what’s always set the Un-carrier apart.

When the carriers look at 5G, they see another opportunity to line their pockets. We look at 5G and see another opportunity to unleash customers. So, we’ll keep going faster, growing faster and advancing faster into the future. Like John always says – we won’t stop!