April 27, 2023 – T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert urged Congress Thursday to restore the Federal Communications Commission’s spectrum auction authority amid the pure play wireless company’s goal of expanding its 5G network and driving down customer defections by showing Americans the quality of that network.
“Does this wireless industry have enough spectrum over the long-haul for American competitiveness? I’d say, never,” Sievert said on the company’s first quarter earnings conference call, noting the FCC lost its spectrum auction authority in March. T-Mobile has previously urged Congress to extend the auction authority.
“I think that it’s very important we get back on track with this and that auctions that are completed get put to use for the American consumer because there’s work that’s pending there and that the FCC regains its authority quickly to be able to lead in this space going forward the way they have done so well in the past.
“I think that’s very important for our company, for our competitors, but also for American competitiveness.”
The wireless company is banking on more spectrum so that it can continue its 5G expansion, which Sievert said is a key driver of its appeal.
Three years ago this month, the company closed its acquisition of Sprint. Since then, Sievert said the company has been on a journey to prove the value of its 5G-focused network for not just mobile wireless, but high-speed internet.
“We’re at a fascinating, historical moment in the history of our company,” Sievert said. “If you think about it, we have spent six years on the chapter of our company comprised of dreaming about and then completing and then integrating the merger that would allow us to leapfrog AT&T and Verizon from being last place in the LTE era to first place in the 5G era.
“And now we’ve generally gotten that done — we have the best network in the country, we have the best values, and we’ve generally completed that merger, and so now we have work to do to convince the American public that it’s true.”
Part of that 5G sell is the home internet capabilities. The company said 3.2 million T-Mobile customers are running their home internet over the 5G wireless network, with hundreds of gigabytes per month being consumed on it in the top 100 markets in the country. Home internet is what T-Mobile is calling a “big killer” application for 5G.
The industry has already heard about the value of fixed-wireless access. Verizon said this week that it is banking on the C-band spectrum to drive that segment beyond two million connections. Meanwhile, AT&T has said fixed-wireless isn’t a product that it is looking to heavily invest in as it targets more fiber connectivity.
T-Mobile executives noted that 5G in some rural areas is the first high-speed option that existed for them. The company covers 326 million people with its 5G network.
For the three months that ended March 31, and compared to the same period last year, the company added 523,000 net new customers on its high-speed internet option, 185,000 more than the year prior.
It added 1.32 million new postpaid wireless customers, lower than the 1.38 it added last year. That was attributed to “continued normalization of industry growth.”
Churn, the measure of the rate at which customers leave the company, was down to 0.89 percent compared to the 0.93 percent it endured in the same quarter last year. Total postpaid and prepaid customers at the end of the quarter sat at 114.9 million compared to 109.5 million in the same quarter last year.
Overall, it reported a 2.4 percent decline in revenues to $19.6 billion, but service revenues were up 3 percent year-over-year to $15.5 billion attributed partly to higher postpaid service revenue. Net income was up 172 percent to $1.9 billion attributed to lower merger-related costs.