The big picture: On Thursday, wireless provider T-Mobile announced it would be activating its 5G network on December 6, 2019. Figurehead and CEO John Legere claimed that more than 200 million customers in the US would have access as soon as they flip the switch. Legere noted that the network would have coverage in 5,000 cities before the new year.
The news came in a live steam held to discuss the merger with Sprint that the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) just approved on Tuesday. Legere said the company was working hard toward meeting the commitments that it made to the FCC and to consumers.
Approval of the deal came with conditions that must be met. For one, the provider must have 5G service to at least 97 percent of its customers within the next three years. It must also deliver 100Mbps or faster speeds to 90 percent of its subscribers by 2025. The company could face as much as $2 billion in fines if it does not meet those milestones.
“We have made tangible, significant commitments to the federal government about all that we are going to do with serious penalties on behalf of the shareholders of this company if we do not perform,” said Legere.
For T-Mobile to hold good on its promises, gaining access to Sprint’s spectrum is crucial. So far, it looks like that will happen as long as the deal does not get bogged down in court proceedings brought by the 18 states trying to block the merger.
Despite the legal obstacles still remaining, Legere mentioned that the company is on track to meet the 100Mbps commitment by 2024, one year ahead of schedule.
When asked if T-Mobile would be charging extra for 5G service, COO Mike Sievert responded with a resounding “no.”
“It’s very simple. No,” said Sievert. “And that’s in big contrast to our competitors that launched a premium and then a promotion to give you a credit against the premium — maybe — pay extra for 5G, except they put a credit — maybe. That kind of stuff. We’re not doing that. Our current offers will include 5G access.”