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T-Mobile expands land-based fiber offering to 13 cities

The front of T-Mobile's corporate headquarters in Washington. (Image courtesy T-Mobile US/Deutsche Telekom, Graphic by The Desk)
The front of T-Mobile’s corporate headquarters in Washington. (Image courtesy T-Mobile US/Deutsche Telekom, Graphic by The Desk)

At a time when T-Mobile is pushing customers to adopt its wireless home Internet service, it might be surprising to learn the Magenta-themed telecom is also offering land-based fiber Internet connections in some parts of the country.

And, yet, that’s what’s happening — and the list of cities where T-Mobile’s fiber Internet service is available continues to grow.

This week, the website Fierce Telecom noted that T-Mobile’s fiber Internet service is now available in 13 cities across the United States, with service starting as low as $55 per month.

The areas where T-Mobile fiber Internet is available include:

  • Bloomington, Minnesota
  • Eden Prairie, Minnesota
  • Farmington, Michigan
  • Kenosha, Wisconsin
  • New York City, New York
  • Northglenn, Colorado
  • Oceanside/Palmdale, California
  • Pinellas County, Florida
  • Polk County, Florida
  • Pueblo, Colorado
  • Rockford, Illinois
  • St. Cloud, Minnesota

The company offers three service tiers of fiber-based Internet, which are bundled with a T-Mobile customer’s wireless plan:

  • Fiber 500: $55 per month for 500 Mbps
  • Fiber 1 Gig: $70 per month for 1,000+ Mbps
  • Fiber 2 Gig: $100 per month for 2,000+ Mbps

The listed speeds are for simultaneous upload and download connections, and each plan includes a WiFi 6-compatible modem-router gateway. There are no annual contracts required for any of the plans and no data caps, according to T-Mobile’s website.

In each area, T-Mobile is working with one of four fiber broadband partners — Intrepid Fiber Networks, SiFi Networks, Pilot Fiber or Tillman FiberCo. Rather than deploying its own fiber network, T-Mobile purchases access to the fiber networks developed by those four partners, then resells that access to its customers.

Last fall, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert said the company was interested in more fiber partnerships in lieu of deploying its own network, because it allowed the company to offer more telecom-based products to customers without moving T-Mobile’s focus away from its core wireless business.

“We don’t have an interest right now in changing the basic capital structure of this company nor the philosophy of it, nor the centricity we have around wireless,” Sievert said. “We’re looking for ways that we can, over the next couple of years, continue to learn, continue to expand, bring our brand to fiber through partnerships, through capital-light methods, investments, collaborations, those kinds of things.”

In other words, T-Mobile is interested in offering fiber Internet service in areas where there are already land-based broadband providers willing to sell access to their networks. Those arrangements allow T-Mobile to slap its name on what is essentially a white label service developed, deployed and maintained by another company — similar to how mobile virtual network operators like Xfinity Mobile, Simple Mobile and Consumer Cellular purchase wireless phone connections from AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon for their own offerings.

Hamstringing this effort is a lack of broadband providers willing to offer white label access to their networks. AT&T and Comcast, two of the biggest fiber companies, are unlikely to allow anyone else to resell their service anytime soon, preferring direct relationships with customers in the areas where they offer broadband Internet.

For this reason, T-Mobile is increasingly looking at so-called “open-access network” partners who develop broadband platforms with the specific intent of reselling access to other companies. In areas where there are no such partners, T-Mobile remains committed to marketing its fixed wireless Internet solution, called T-Mobile Home Internet, which leverages the company’s 4G LTE and 5G wireless network. T-Mobile Home Internet starts at $60 per month.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).