According to Bloomberg, T-Mobile is reportedly considering building a multibillion-dollar fiber optic network that it would use to deliver internet services at home. While the company began testing fiber internet last year, its primarily home-focused offering connects to 5G rather than other wired infrastructure like DSL or cable.
Bloomberg reports that the airline has been working with Citigroup to find financial partners for a potential $4 billion joint venture, or “commercial partnership.” It seems like the plan is still in its infancy, and it’s possible that nothing will come of it, but it still feels like a significant step for the wireless carrier, which traditionally uses and manages a very different type of infrastructure.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile’s current internet offerings for homes and businesses (at least the widespread ones) rely on its 5G and LTE networks. While this makes it easier to roll out the cover than if fiberglass had to be buried in the ground, there are limitations. poor service can lead to poor user experience, and a fiber optic network will almost certainly outperform a cellular network. It would be good for T-Mobile to be able to offer both options in some areas: a relatively inexpensive cellular option for people with relatively light Internet needs, and a fiber offering for power users and people who need rock-solid service.
T-Mobile did not immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment on its search for partners to build a fiber network and how many users are currently using its fiber home internet pilot. When we wrote about this service in August last year, T-Mobile had only made it available in parts of New York City and was using a local fiber provider’s infrastructure instead of its own. According to Bloomberg, the airline has also been looking at other partnerships where it could strike a similar deal.
While T-Mobile may want to spend big on fiber, it seems likely that its main home Internet offering will continue to be its fixed wireless service. As Google has shown, building a fiber optic network in just a few dozen areas can be an expensive and time-consuming proposition fraught with potential setbacks from established players. Earlier this year, T-Mobile announced that one million people had signed up for its 5G home internet service and that it was able to deliver it to over 40 million homes.