Neville Ray talks T-Mobile 5G and his network playbook
Neville Ray appeared on a Wells Fargo Virtual 5G Forum this week took the opportunity to talk a bit about T-Mobile’s network.
First up, T-Mobile’s president of technology unsurprisingly touched a bit more on the major outage that T-Mo suffered this week. Ray reaffirmed that it was triggered by a fiber outage that then was compounted by a couple other issues, resulting in capacity issues in the core architecture that stopped phones from completing VoLTE calls.
Ray also revealed that T-Mobile addressed the problem by adding a lot of capacity on the fly. Earlier this week, he said that T-Mo has added more permanent safeguards to prevent this type of outage from happening again.
“It’s not good enough from us. A lot of third-parties involved but it’s our network and it’s our service and it’s what our customers come to us for,” Ray said. “We have to do better.”
Ray also touched on T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint, saying that T-Mo gained an “outstanding” wealth of spectrum assets from the deal. That includes 2.5GHz spectrum that T-Mobile is using for 5G in places like New York City and Philadelphia, where it’s seeing gigabit peak speeds and average speeds of 300-400Mbps.
Ray then revealed his 5G playbook for the future. “My playbook is simply to get as much 600 and 2.5 rolled out as is humanly possible this year and next,” he explained. “This year is going to be big for us.”
It was also confirmed that the Keep Americans Connected Pledge and the 600MHz spectrum that T-Mobile borrowed as part of it is winding down at the end of this month, but that T-Mo struck a deal with Columbia Capital on long-term lease of 600MHz.
Keeping with the 5G theme, Ray talked a bit about rollouts both abroad and from competition in the US. He said that China and South Korea are doing great work with 5G and that “we have a lot of work to do” in the US.
And of course, he had to take a shot or two at AT&T and Verizon. “We now have more mmWave spectrum than AT&T”, Ray said, adding that mmWave is good as backhaul and that T-Mobile will continue to evaluate its options with that high-band spectrum. T-Mo offers mmWave 5G in parts of 6 cities: New York City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas, Cleveland, and Atlanta.
Ray also noted that mmWave could be useful as a fixed broadband replacement, something that Verizon has been using it for.
The T-Mobile exec also touched a bit on the FCC’s upcoming C-band spectrum auction, which is scheduled for December. “I think these guys are going to muster everything they can from their balance sheets to go to war on C-band. They have no choice,” Ray said of AT&T and Verizon. As for T-Mobile, “We’ll evaluate where we are,” he said, adding that “C-band is an interesting opportunity” and that “we’ve got decisions to make.”