T-Mobile wants to make the Seattle region the capital of 5G innovation, and it has brought along an all-star cast to make that vision a reality.
T-Mobile, along with the city of Bellevue, the University of Washington and venture capital firm Quake Capital, applied with the state of Washington to designate parts of Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond as a 5G “Innovation Partnership Zone,” an alliance of institutions, government organizations and companies, according to records obtained by GeekWire. And while those organizations are leading the charge, the list of partners adds some major firepower to the plan: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Google, Intel, WeWork and many more have signed onto the proposal.
“Seattle, being the home of two major cloud providers, and the third largest telecommunication company, is uniquely placed to be a central organizing city for 5G developments,” Caroline Chan, vice president of Intel’s Network Business Incubation Division wrote in a letter of support for the 5G plan. “We applaud the 5G Open Innovation Lab team, and the IPZ management team for their plans to bring all parts of the ecosystem together, from startups through to corporations and investors.”
T-Mobile declined to comment on the proposal. The documents were first obtained by the Puget Sound Business Journal.
The lynchpin of the plan is a new 5G Open Innovation Lab that will include an incubator for “early and late stage enterprise startups launching innovative products, services, and technologies dependent on future 5G networks,” per the documents. The program is set to begin in November, and the companies expect to complete two to four cohorts each year. Approximately 115 startups are expected to go through the incubator by 2021.
The leaders of the partnership include Jim Brisimitzis, a who established Quake Capital’s new Seattle office and founded the Microsoft for Startups program during a 13-year career at the tech giant, T-Mobile Director of Corporate Strategy and Strategic Partnerships Rick Balakier, University of Washington Professor Sumit Roy, City of Bellevue Chief Economic Development Officer Jesse Canedo and Alexandra Iljadica, principal at Quake Capital.
T-Mobile and other members of the partnership aim to help “grow new companies, lead to the development of new products, and increase venture investments which will lead to job growth,” per the documents.
The new innovation lab creates a 5G center of gravity based in T-Mobile’s own headquarters that could give the so-called “Un-carrier” a leg up against its rivals. According to the documents, the “space will be fitted out with 5G testing and prototyping facilities as well as event space, meeting rooms and a co-working space.” The University of Washington will provide R&D facilities to support the program.
T-Mobile has made a major bet on 5G, the fifth generation of wireless technology. Earlier this week, it showed off a brand new devices lab in its hometown of Bellevue that complements its network lab in a high-tech warehouse called the Launch Pad.
T-Mobile is competing with rivals Verizon and AT&T in the U.S. to be the leading player in the next-generation technology. The rollout of nationwide 5G is a centerpiece of T-Mobile’s bid to combine with former rival Sprint.
In the partnership documents, T-Mobile laid out just how huge of an opportunity 5G represents. The application cites a Qualcomm estimate that pegged the 5G market opportunity at $3.7 trillion. Beyond the numbers, 5G has an opportunity to bring new capabilities to remote locations that haven’t been able to access some of the latest technology.
“5G will enable wireless networks to achieve a new level of intelligence. In particular this is important in physical spaces that don’t presently have wired infrastructure,” T-Mobile wrote in the Innovation Partnership Zone business plan. “Land used for farming, ports, and high traffic corridors are some examples where 5G will enable mass machine to machine communication to bring new levels of productivity. By enabling the faster computation and analytics of massive amounts of data in the location where the data is produced, 5G will deliver access to business intelligence everywhere and anywhere.”