Mobile World Congress 2023: Wrapping Up the First Quarter of 5G

By Neville Ray, President of TechnologyMarch 14, 2023

I recently had the privilege of joining colleagues from around the world at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to discuss the future of wireless technology and define where we’re headed next in the 5G era. It's clear, MWC is back in full force with crowds of key technology leaders and innovators swarming the showroom floor. And as expected, 5G was a key topic at this year's conference.

Five years after I unveiled our now famous spectrum layer cake in Barcelona, I was honored to take the stage at MWC one last time as President of Technology to lay out how T-Mobile became what's being recognized as THE network leader in the US and a global 5G leader.  And why that puts us in a unique position to drive the wireless industry forward alongside our partners for the benefit of customers around the globe. I also shared some news on 5G advancements and what we’ve delivered since our merger with Sprint nearly three years ago. If you weren’t in Barcelona – or you didn’t catch the live stream before dawn in the US – check out the replay below. The game has changed. T-Mobile is in its ascendancy and the future is incredibly bright as we move forward.

Replay: Mobile World Congress Keynote

How T-Mobile became the US network leader and a global leader in 5G.

During my presentation, I laid out T-Mobile's rapid network growth. After being first in the US with a nationwide 5G network in December 2019, we completed a merger with Sprint in April 2020, which brought us critical mid-band spectrum. As a result, today we have the largest, fastest 5G network in the country.

We knew the leading 5G network we could build would bring meaningful connectivity to areas large and small across the country while creating new competition across mobile and fixed broadband. And we've delivered on all of it. But we’re not just leading in 5G. T-Mobile is now emerging as THE overall network leader according to independent third-party reports.

Surging 5G Usage and Adoption

Our customers are moving to 5G at an incredible rate and we’ve seen a fundamental shift in the way people use their devices. More than 60% of the smartphones on our network are 5G capable, and a whopping 70% of our network traffic is 5G. Many operators around the globe are not even at a tenth of that! And our customers on Magenta Max – our smartphone plan built for 5G – are streaming about 40 hours of video every month – twice the amount streamed by other customers. They're gaming 4x more, streaming 3x more music and using 2x more data on social media apps.

Moving the Global Ecosystem Forward

With the most advanced 5G network in the world, T-Mobile is at the cutting edge and it's on us to continue innovating and raising the performance bar. My team and I drive the wireless community to deliver features and advanced capabilities that really unleash the power of 5G, not just for us but across the globe.

I announced one such innovation from the stage. Working with Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm Technologies and Samsung, we completed the world's first four-carrier aggregation 5G data call on a commercial device. Combining four channels of mid-band spectrum created a massive 5G pipe that delivered peak speeds north of 3.3 Gbps. And we're working hard to drive that north, talking with our vendors about six and even seven-layer carrier aggregation.

I also announced that we've expanded voice over 5G (VoNR) to four additional markets: Cincinnati, New Orleans, New York and Seattle. And we'll be the first player to get to 100 million people covered in the next few months. On VoNR, you may have a marginally better calling experience, but why is it REALLY important? With VoNR, your whole experience is on a 5G layer. You stay on the best service and the most powerful spectrum and technology.

The 5G Future is Bright

Finally, I presented a look at the future with 5G. The first real powerful new 5G use case is fixed wireless access. T-Mobile is the fastest-growing home internet provider in the US, serving more than two million customers with plans to serve 7-8 million by the end of 2025. This is a multi-billion-dollar revenue stream that feels like it came from nowhere, using fallow spectrum, and it will be adopted around the globe in the coming years. This highly monetizable use case proves there is real money being made in 5G if you commit and drive the level of rollout and activity akin to what we’ve done.

We are working very hard to foster innovation across many industries and consumer segments on our 5G network. There is huge opportunity in Extended Reality (XR), which was very prevalent at MWC, and it's already moving into the industrial space. Imagine transforming a workforce by making it way more skilled and capable, providing technicians with specific Instructions in their field of view. We also have things like Pano AI, leveraging our 5G network to detect wildfires before they spread out of control and significantly reduce response times. And live sports are beginning to transform with 5G, making the fan experience more engaging and interactive while also creating more robust and efficient operations.

It's clear 5G is making a massive impact today, and this is only the beginning. I like to say we're just now wrapping up the first quarter of 5G, and with the powerhouse network we've built, T-Mobile is poised to lead the charge throughout the entire 5G era and beyond.  

It's been an incredible journey for me, working with the amazing talent at T-Mobile for over two decades now. And as I approach my retirement later this year, I can say with confidence that the last three years have represented the proudest period in my entire career.


Select words in this release were edited on July 6, 2023.