T-Mobile is adding some fiber to its broadband diet in Manhattan.
The mobile carrier has quietly introduced a limited pilot for T-Mobile Fiber, a fiber-based broadband service delivering symmetrical speeds of 940 Mbit/s. However, the company confirmed that T-Mobile's fixed wireless service will remain its "flagship home Internet offering."
T-Mobile isn't serving up a lot of detail on availability and pricing on the fiber-based service, thought the site does let interested customers input an address to see if T-Mobile Fiber service is currently on offer at their location. The landing page for T-Mobile Fiber also notes the service won't be saddled with data caps, and does come with a Wi-Fi 6 router.
Update: T-Mobile confirmed that the standard price of T-Mobile Fiber is $60 per month for customers in select residential buildings in Manhattan.
Linkages to Pilot Fiber
New Street Research analysts said in a research note that it appears that T-Mobile is reselling services on fiber owned by Pilot Fiber, a company that provides fiber service to more than 600 buildings in the New York City area and claims to have more than 2,100 customers. As further evidence of that connection, the analysts point out that users visiting www.getpilot.com are being redirected to the T-Mobile Fiber site.
"The economics of wholesaling someone else's infrastructure won't be great, but it will help T-Mobile compete against cable and the incumbents where they are integrated, potentially helping retention and lowering churn," New Street Research explained. T-Mobile should help Pilot attract subscribers to its network, but getting access to more buildings in the area could prove to be a slower go, they added.
New Street Research doesn't view T-Mobile Fiber as a "major driver of value for T-Mobile," but suspects that the company will seek out similar opportunities in other cities. "There is a decent amount of fiber in many large cities that T-Mobile may be able to access," they explained. "T-Mobile is an excellent marketer; we would assume they will gain share wherever they can gain access. We estimate that
over 35MM or more than 25% of households live in MDUs."
'Very limited pilot'
T-Mobile is billing this as a "very limited pilot," and has made no announcements about deploying something similar in other US markets.
"We recently launched a pilot program in select Manhattan residential buildings to deliver home Internet over fiber-optic lines, using a local fiber provider's network," a T-Mobile official said in a statement. "Our fixed wireless service will continue to be our flagship home Internet offering. It's available to millions of Americans today and is rapidly expanding. We're launching this pilot program with fiber-based service to select residential buildings in Manhattan as a complement to what we’re already doing with fixed wireless."
The company noted it will offer more details on T-Mobile Fiber "if we move from pilot to commercial launch … but for now, this remains a very limited pilot."
Though the Manhattan trial of T-Mobile Fiber is small, it threatens to present some new competition from a well-known brand for area wireline broadband service incumbents such as Verizon Fios and Charter Communications.
T-Mobile Home Internet, the company's 5G-based fixed wireless service, currently sells for $50 per month. The uncapped offering is designed to deliver average download speeds of 25 Mbit/s or more, with some are seeing averages as high as 100 Mbit/s. T-Mobile Home Internet's upload speeds range from 6 Mbit/s to 23 Mbit/s, according to the company.
Meanwhile, fiber-fueled broadband activity continues to pick up in New York City. Prashanth Vijay, founder and CEO of Flume, recently caught up with Light Reading Contributing Editor Nicole Ferraro about the company's last-mile, dark-fiber-based home broadband service and its commitment to deliver broadband to New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings via the NYC Internet Master Plan.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading
A version of this story first appeared on Light Reading.