T-Mobile on Thursday unveiled a limited home internet service that it plans to pilot for 50,000 mobile customers at $50 a month, with the company promising it could build on that, and eventually offer a lot more once its $26.5 billion merger with Sprint finally goes through.
For now, the new invitation-only service will focus on areas where the carrier can deliver high-speed internet access to connect up to 50,000 homes in rural and underserved parts of the country. Once it merges with Sprint, however, T-Mobile says it should be able to cover more than half of the US with broadband service by 2024.
This seems to be one attempt by T-Mobile to push back against critics of the proposed merger who worry it will leave customers with less choice and the potential for prices to rise. “We’re walking the walk and laying the foundation for a world where we can take the fight to Big Cable on behalf of consumers and offer real choice, competition and savings to Americans nationwide,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere about the home broadband pilot.
The service will be offered only in areas where T-Mobile expects to deliver speeds of around 50 Mbps through fixed unlimited wireless service over LTE, with no data caps. The carrier points to one economist’s estimate that showed while customers today pay around $80 a month for wired in-home broadband service, “the new T-Mobile will save customers up to $13.65 billion a year on home broadband by 2024”.
As context for why it decided to pursue the new service, T-Mobile went on to note in its announcement that almost half of Americans today have no competitive choice for high-speed in-home broadband. “The New T-Mobile,” the company declares, “will be armed with spectrum and network assets that will build the highest capacity wireless network in US history, covering millions with 5G, not just a few people in a few blocks of a few cities like the other guys.”
If you’re eligible to participate in the home broadband pilot, T-Mobile plans to start sending out invitations by email and regular mail this week.
We mentioned T-Mobile’s pending merger with Sprint, and it’s also worth pointing out, as a reminder, that it’s still under review by federal regulators. T-Mobile has said it feels optimistic everything will be approved in the first half of this year.