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T-Mobile marks 1M Home Internet customer milestone

T-Mobile made a show today of how it’s already welcomed its 1 millionth Home Internet customer, announcing “remarkable growth” just one year after launching the service commercially.

That milestone was hit “very early this month,” the company said. In addition, it’s expanding the network to include 10 million additional homes that are now eligible for its 5G Home Internet service, making its offer available to more than 40 million households across the country. At the time of launch last year, it included 30 million eligible homes for the fixed wireless access (FWA) service.

T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert used the occasion to remind everybody of T-Mobile’s scrappy spirit.

“T-Mobile’s remarkable growth in broadband – a market that’s full of big behemoth corporations – just underscores how hungry customers are for a real alternative to the carriers and the landline ISPs,” Sievert said in a statement. “We launched into broadband last year with a radically new value prop that’s completely disrupted this category, and now, with a household footprint that’s millions larger than the nearest fixed wireless competitor. And we are just getting started. There’s more Un-carrier disruption on the way.”

Analysts have identified FWA as the new battleground between telco and cable competitors, with wireless carriers targeting the traditional stable of cable customers and cable companies going after wireless subscribers with lower cost plans.

In a note for investors today, New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin said T-Mobile’s announcement implies the operator added more than 350,000 fixed wireless subscribers in 2022*, as it ended 2021 with 646,000 fixed wireless subscribers.

Verizon has already said its FWA adds will at least double in the first quarter of 2022 sequentially, helped in part by an aggressive $25 bundled price point, noted analysts at Morgan Stanley. That puts Verizon at an estimated 150,000 FWA net additions for Q1 2022; it reports its quarterly numbers on Friday.

T-Mobile has said it expects to serve 7 million to 8 million FWA subscribers by 2025. Verizon expects to have 4 million to 5 million by that time, and AT&T is mostly sitting this one out, focusing on fiber. Emphasis on rural

About 33% of T-Mobile’s FWA subscribers are in rural markets, even though rural passings account for only 6% of T-Mobile’s FWA availability, according to a report last week by MoffettNathanson, which cited data from Comlinkdata.

The report said the rural bias could be explained by the assumption that demand is greatest in rural areas, as well as the relative ease of taking subscribers away from DSL or a wireless internet service provider (WISP) rather than from cable or a fixed service provider.

It’s also likely where T-Mobile wants its subscribers in order to avoid overburdening the mobile network – plus rural America happens to be where T-Mobile historically didn’t have much coverage before 5G, and it promised to make amends as part of the merger with Sprint.

In today’s announcement, T-Mobile said it was already the fastest growing broadband provider in America, adding more broadband customers in the fourth quarter of 2021 than any other provider in the country – including Comcast, Charter, Cox, Verizon or AT&T. “The Un-carrier is putting landline ISPs on notice,” T-Mobile declared.

Among the benefits of T-Mobile’s FWA, it’s “fully wireless,” and T-Mobile will mail a gateway to the customer’s home or business, according to the “un-carrier,” so there’s no waiting around for the cable guy to come knocking. It requires an app, an outlet and 15 minutes to get connected. With autopay, it costs $50 a month.

*Article corrected to say this estimate is for all of 2022, not just the first quarter.

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