T-Mobile and Nokia have formed a new $3.5 billion partnership to speed up deployment of a next-generation nationwide 5G wireless network.
Nokia, which Microsoft infamously acquired in 2014 and then shed in 2016, has done extensive work to plan for 5G in recent years as it re-establishes itself. As part of the deal Nokia will provide T-Mobile with all of its 5G technology, software and services. Nokia will help build out T-Mobile’s nationwide 5G network, as the self-proclaimed Un-Carrier competes with other carriers to establish itself in what the company calls the “critical first years of the 5G cycle.”
“We are all in on 5G,” T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray said in a statement. “Every dollar we spend is a 5G dollar, and our agreement with Nokia underscores the kind of investment we’re making to bring customers a mobile, nationwide 5G network. And together with Sprint, we’ll be able to do So. Much. More.”
T-Mobile and Nokia pledge to develop, test and launch what they call the “next generation of connectivity services” as part of the deal, covering areas like enterprise, smart cities, utilities, transportation, health, manufacturing, retail, agriculture and government.
The landmark deal comes as T-Mobile is in the midst of combining with Sprint, a move that would value the new company at approximately $146 billion. The deal would create a much stronger competitor to AT&T and Verizon, the giants of the U.S. wireless industry.
As T-Mobile and Sprint executives lobby for regulatory approval of the deal, 5G has been a big part of the argument. T-Mobile says 5G promises faster speeds and superior connectivity, longer battery life for sensors. It will, the company says, enable on-demand virtual reality and augmented reality experiences and unleash other technologies such as driverless vehicles, medical monitoring and advanced industrial automation services.
“Nearly every business in America will be able to use 5G to revolutionize how they create and deliver goods and services,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere told a Senate subcommittee last month. “To make this happen and deliver on the full promise of 5G, we need to combine Sprint and T-Mobile now.”
T-Mobile isn’t the only major carrier in the race for 5G. Verizon plans to launch 5G in Houston later this year, joining Sacramento and Los Angeles as some of the first cities for its next-generation network. AT&T said on its most recent earnings call that it planned to launch 5G in some parts of 12 markets by the end of the year.