T-Mobile's Metro to Offer Prepaid 5G in 2019
T-Mobile's Metro (formerly MetroPCS) said Monday it will offer pay-as-you-go wireless customers 5G service in 2019, the first major carrier to announce prepaid service for the emerging standard.
The prepaid operator will use T-Mobile US Inc. 's 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 5G New Radio mobile 5G standard for its 5G service, which is supposed to launch in the first half of next year. The operator has said that it is building out at least 30 cities this year, with commercial service arriving in cities like New York, Dallas and Las Vegas, as compatible smartphones become available. (See T-Mobile to Roll Out 5G in 30 US Cities in 2018, T-Mobile: 5G Lets Us Take Broadband Across America and 5G in the USA: A Post-MWCA Update.)
T-Mobile is using low-band 600MHz frequencies to bring on its initial 5G service in 2019. This will mean that it will be able to deliver 5G coverage over a similar range to 4G, and get in-building penetration, but speeds will initially top out at a couple of hundred megabits per second at best. (See Getting Real About Mobile 5G Speeds.)
Verizon, by contrast, is offering speeds of up to 1 Mbit/s for its proprietary, fixed, residential 5G. A launch that has -- unsurprisingly -- been blasted by T-Mobile CEO John Legere, on Twitter.
I still have so many unanswered questions… for instance, do you have a better chance of getting @Verizon’s 5G* if you wrap your house in tin foil?? These are the important questions that @verizon still needs to answer. 😂 #VerizonFAQ pic.twitter.com/01yhoJpXfP— John Legere (@JohnLegere) October 1, 2018
Metro, meanwhile, is the first major operator's prepaid unit to reveal 5G plans. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) (Cricket), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) (Virgin Mobile etc.) and Verizon Wireless prepaid units are still focused on 4G. This is likely to change as mobile 5G starts to arrive in the US in 2019. (See 5G in the USA: Where We at With Mobile?)
T-Mobile initially bought MetroPCS back in 2013. The prepaid -- meaning you don't pay for a monthly contract but buy service as you use it -- operation has just rebranded as, uh, Metro. (See T-Mobile Rebrands MetroPCS.)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading