T-Mobile is rolling out a new internet service as the FCC prepares to rule on a potential merger with Sprint. The pilot program is designed to offer rural customers access to 50Mbps internet by way of the company’s existing mobile infrastructure.
If all goes according to plan, T-Mobile says customers can expect the offer to expand to more markets. While the trial program is expected to use the LTE network, T-Mobile says 5G will be available if the service goes mainstream – i.e. after its merger with Sprint.
Some analysts say the move by T-Mobile is more about winning the confidence of FCC than anything else. The Verge reports that the agency “has been focused on improving broadband access in rural parts of the country. By promising to work toward a cause that’s important to the commission, T-Mobile could warm FCC decision makers up to the merger.“
Even by T-Mobile’s best estimates, if the trial program is successful, it’ll reach just 50,000 homes before 2020. The company says invites have already been sent to eligible customers.