T-Mobile on Thursday announced that it's launching an invitation only pilot that will test in-home LTE Internet service in rural and underserved markets. The carrier said the goal is to connect up to 50,000 homes this year using fixed unlimited wireless service over LTE and ultimately disrupt the home broadband market.
The LTE service will reach speeds of around 50 Mbps with no data caps, T-Mobile said, and will cost $50 per month when customers enroll in auto pay. The program is invitation only and limited to specific areas because of spectrum capacity constraints, but T-Mobile said that, if approved, its pending merger with Sprint will expand the scale and capacity of its network into the 5G realm by 2024.
"Today, consumers typically pay around $80 per month for wired in-home broadband service – $960 per year," T-Mobile wrote in its press release. "Thanks to lower prices and more competition, one economist estimates that the New T-Mobile will save customers up to $13.65 billion a year on home broadband by 2024."
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After years of stop-and-go negotiations, Sprint and T-Mobile in April 2018 finally announced an all-stock, merger and acquisition deal worth $26 billion. The deal would shrink the number of major wireless carriers in the US from four to three. Critics of the proposed merger have suggested the deal could leave consumers with fewer low-cost options, as well as fewer value-oriented Mobile Virtual Network Operators which lease network access from major mobile operators.
However, the merger is far from a done deal. Earlier this month, a group of nine senators expressed opposition to Sprint's impending merger with T-Mobile, arguing the deal is "likely to raise prices for consumers, harm workers, stifle competition, exacerbate the digital divide, and undermine innovation." The group conveyed their concerns in a pair of lengthy letters to the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission, urging the two agencies to block the deal.