T-Mobile is reportedly considering building a multibillion-dollar fiber network that it would use to provide internet services at home. according to Bloomberg. Although the company started testing fiber optic internet last year, its main home-facing offering connects to 5G instead of other wired infrastructure such as DSL or cable.
Bloomberg reports that the airline has worked with Citigroup to find financial partners for a potential $4 billion joint venture or “commercial partnership.” It seems early days for the plan, and it may not come to anything, but it still feels like an important step for the wireless carrier, which has traditionally used and managed a very different kind of infrastructure.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile’s current home and work internet offerings (at least the ones that are widely available) relies on its 5G and LTE networks. While that makes it possible to roll out the cover more easily than if it were to lay fibers in the ground, there are limitations; bad service can lead to a bad user experience and a fiber network will almost certainly outperform a mobile network. It would be good for T-Mobile to be able to offer both options in some areas: a relatively cheap mobile option for those with relatively light internet needs and a fiber offering for power users and those who need solid service.
T-Mobile did not immediately respond to The edge‘s request for comment on the search for partners to build a fiber optic network and on the number of users currently participating in the fiber optic internet for home pilot. When we wrote about that service last August, T-Mobile had made it available only in parts of New York City and was using a local fiber optic provider’s infrastructure rather than its own. According to Bloombergthe carrier has also explored other partnerships where it could make a similar arrangement.
While T-Mobile may want to spend a lot of money on fiber, it seems likely that the main internet offering for the home will still be its fixed wireless service. As Google has shown, building a fiber network in just a few dozen areas can be an expensive and time-consuming operation, accompanied by potential backlash from established players. Earlier this year, T-Mobile announced that one million people had signed up for its 5G home internet service and that it was able to deliver it to more than 40 million households.