Commentary

Rebranded Metro by T-Mobile Says It Will Offer 5G Service Next Year

Metro by T-Mobile -- whose name change from Metro PCS became official yesterday -- took the occasion to announce it will be the first prepaid brand committing to launch 5G service in 2019. 

“T-Mobile is in the middle of rebranding its Metro by T-Mobile service to more closely align it with its parent. Metro launched new unlimited data plans on Monday, with some tiers offering Google One cloud storage and Amazon Prime membership,” writes CNET’s Roger Cheng.

The new brand conducted a Metro by T-Mobile Pop-Up Experience in Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal yesterday that allowed commuters to explore its own interactive demos as well as some from Amazon Prime and Google One that featured virtual and augmented reality. Keegan-Michael Key made the introduction as “the first official customer to sign up.”

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“When we talk about 5G for all, it's not just nationwide 5G service, but it’s all shades of T-Mobile, magenta and purple,” T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said at the event.

“Metro's branding revolves around purple,” Cheng points out. And T-Mobile identifies so deeply with that color -- specifically Pantone 676C, aka “plum” -- that it has gone to court here and in Germany to stop other companies from using it. 

“Today, a new chapter begins,” said Josh Curry, vice president of marketing for Metro, at the event. And the plot will thicken as 5G, which they say “is going to change everything,” rolls out.

“Innovation that was science fiction a decade ago is not only possible, but investment opportunities are also developing right now,” writes Jon Markham for Forbes. “And 5G stands out as a real game-changer.” 

Skyworks CTO Peter Gammel explains it all in the video “5G in Five Minutes.” (5G so fast, in fact, that the video only takes 4:04 to watch.)

In brief, 5G doesn’t just deliver high-resolution video uploads and downloads faster by improving the data rates on your mobile device by more than a hundredfold -- from about 20 Mbps over 4G to 2,000 Mbps in 5G. It will also enable your device to incorporate the AI necessary to drive autonomous vehicles, engage in augmented reality and choose the best option among many choices. 

One example Gammel gives: you’re skiing down a mountain and ask your phone, “which run should I take?” The device, taking into consideration such factors as your level of expertise and how many other skiers are on the mountain, “makes some decisions in real time and provides feedback as to what your decision would be, almost acting like an assistant.” 

Meanwhile, Metro by T-Mobile is attempting “to alter what for many people is a negative view of the ‘prepaid wireless’ category’ and offering 5G as a further step to “blur the already fuzzy line between traditional postpaid wireless service and prepaid,” Edward C. Baig writes for USA Today.

“If Metro meets that promise, it will go a long way toward bolstering the reputation of prepaid, which many folks associate with less-than-stellar network coverage and cheaper phones. Never mind the reality: MetroPCS customers get cell service from the same network as regular T-Mobile customers,” Baig continues.

“T-Mobile is using equipment from Ericsson and Nokia to build a 5G network across the carrier’s 600 MHz, 28 GHz and 39 GHz spectrum in 30 cities -- including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Las Vegas -- during 2018. However, T-Mobile’s Ray said earlier this year the operator won’t be able to offer compatible smartphones for the service until early 2019,” Mike Dano reports for FierceWireless.

Mobile is also “in the midst of a merger with Sprint,” The Verge’s Dami Lee reminds us, “a strategic partnership designed specifically to use Sprint’s mid-band 2.5GHz spectrum for a stronger 5G network.”

The Federal Communications Commission last month paused the 180-day clock on its review of the merger to give it more time to examine the transaction, as USA Today’s Mike Snider reported.

But “cable companies have begun offering wireless phone service that uses networks built by big mobile carriers -- a trend that could ease the way” for the companies to merge, Bloomberg’s Todd Shields and Scott Moritz wrote Friday. “One of the regulators deciding whether to allow the merger, the Federal Communications Commission, this week asked the largest cable companies, Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc. for details about their new mobile offerings.”

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