MWC23: T-Mobile Touts Network Advancements, Developer Tools, and FWA Gateways at MWC

Kathryn Weldon – Research Director, Business Network and IT Services – Americas

Summary Bullets:

• US operators don’t generally make announcements at MWC, as it tends to be more of a European and international event. They often show up to meet analysts and potential customers, but rarely note new service launches. T-Mobile, however, made three key announcements.

• At MWC, T-Mobile further illustrated that it is increasingly aligned with Deutsche Telekom. Its announcements make clear it is taking every opportunity to showcase initiatives across developer, enterprise, and 5G network services.

T-Mobile made three announcements (so far) at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2023. On Day 1, the ‘Un-Carrier’ announced that Cisco and T-Mobile will offer businesses Cisco Meraki’s first-ever 5G cellular gateways for fixed wireless access (FWA), the MG51 and MG51E. In addition, Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile US introduced network application programming interfaces (APIs) and a joint developer platform in Germany and the US. On Day 3, T-Mobile announced higher speeds and Apple support for its 5G standalone (SA) network.

Cisco/Meraki FWA Gateways
T-Mobile touts FWA as its answer to wireline broadband for both consumers and enterprises. For businesses, many competitors have announced deals with Ericsson Cradlepoint for Wireless WANs or offer FWA with a variety of router/gateway options. Cisco Meraki claims several differentiators for its new 5G gateways that will power T-Mobile Business Internet, including same-day connectivity, rapid connection of branches and zero-touch provisioning, always-on resiliency, and speeds of up to 2 Gbps down and 300 Mbs up. Cisco also claims 90% lower latency than 4G and leading network security and SD-branch capabilities, including Cisco Meraki Auto VPN, firewall, traffic shaping, threat protection, content filtering, and native security protocols such as WPA2-Enterprise. The Meraki FWA gateways are managed in the Meraki Dashboard so customers can use the same tools they use for the rest of the network.

Developer APIs
Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile jointly announced that their new network APIs will enable developers to build and innovate by leveraging telco network capabilities. The announcement further cites a collaboration with Microsoft, which will make it easier for developers to access the network APIs via Microsoft Azure Programmable Connectivity. Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile also announced a reference customer, Siemens Energy, which is using the platform to optimize user experience for virtualized remote maintenance, using a Quality-on Demand API. Their use case requires consistently high network quality even in locations without stable connectivity. Another customer, Bosch, will soon start testing the network API solutions in automotive and other areas to improve customer satisfaction.

This announcement builds on the news from T-Mobile in 2022 that it had launched a developer platform, DevEdge, in the US. T-DevEdge is the new joint platform from both operators designed to bring together engineering products and services such as APIs. The new API portal is a joint offering from T-Mobile US and Deutsche Telekom. Developers can already test their solutions with select APIs by participating in an early access program in the US. Deutsche Telekom was one of the founders of the Camara initiative, consisting of network operators, cloud providers, application developers, and technology and OS vendors. The alliance was announced at MWC 2022 and has grown to eleven API families, 50 partners, and more than 300 people.

5G Standalone Performance
Last but not least was T-Mobile’s update on its 5G SA network. Previously, the operator had touted speeds of up to 3 Gbps by merging three channels of 5G. Now, with four-carrier aggregation, it has boosted that to 3.3 Gbps. It also notes that Apple officially supports its 5G SA network in the US with the iOS 16.4 beta, and it expects SA support on a new iPhone as well as on the Samsung Galaxy S23 and other devices in the near future. Additionally, T-Mobile has shared that voice over 5G (VoNR) is rolling out to four new US cities, beyond the two already in place. T-Mobile says it will expand the technology to additional cities covering more than 100 million people in the coming months. Never missing an opportunity to touts its 5G network and compare it with competitors, T-Mobile further noted that its 5G network “covers 325 million people across 1.9 million square miles – more than AT&T and Verizon combined” and it expects to “reach 300 million people with Ultra Capacity this year – nearly everyone in the country.”

It should be noted that while it did not launch new services, Verizon Business showcased immersive solutions at MWC to demonstrate real 5G use cases and show how the latest technologies are solving organizational challenges in the global business landscape. AT&T network CTO also took the stage at the show to express confidence that the open RAN ecosystem will eventually reach sufficient maturity, noting that AT&T is focused on O-RAN testing and trials.

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