BARCELONA, SPAIN — Don’t expect T-Mobile US to deploy 5G as a fixed wireless service to displace broadband connectivity. Instead, Neville Ray, CTO of T-Mobile US, says 5G is all about capacity and capability, not about competing with existing broadband players like the cable operators.
“I do get frustrated on this ‘use case’ thing. We are running around trying to figure out the use cases. It’s pretty damn simple. It’s about supporting 4K and 8K video and virtual reality. All those use cases are forming in the fixed space, and we know in wireless that we are going to have to support them,” Ray says.
Another area that will need to be supported is the Internet of Things (IoT). Ray didn’t go into a lot of detail about T-Mobile’s long-term IoT plans but did indicate the operator will probably deploy narrowband IoT (NB-IoT). Ray says the company is working with Ericsson and another vendor on NB-IoT.
Ray adds that the company’s IoT traffic currently runs on its its 2G and 3G networks, and he’d like to eventually decommission the 2G network. “We are pushing into the IoT space, and once I have those LTE modules to move at the right price point, I can turn down the 2G,” he says. “I think NB-LTE will be the way to go.”
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T-Mobile used Ericsson’s antenna-integrated radio (AIR) product with 4×4 multiple-in multiple-out (MIMO) coupled with 256 and 64 QAM and carrier aggregation to double the peak speeds.
Ray says the company will deliver Gigabit LTE speeds within the year.
While Gigabit LTE isn’t technically 5G, there’s nothing to stop T-Mobile from marketing it as 5G. And Ray hinted that the operator will do just that. “There’s a lot of chatter about 5G at 1 Gb/s speeds. If you can deliver that on LTE, what’s the difference? What’s the difference to the consumer?” Ray asks. “I think in the 5G space there will be a lot of marketing wars.”