Neville Ray, CTO of T-Mobile
Keeping customers connected is our number one priority … and a responsibility the entire T-Mobile team takes very seriously every day. Right now, that ability to stay connected – to work, school, family, doctors and news – is more important than ever, and we’re making sure the T-Mobile network is there for our customers today and into the future as we all try to navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 virus.
As traffic has increased over the last two weeks, the network is performing well thanks to the major investments we’ve made in building this network for unlimited LTE and now 5G… and we’re continually monitoring the network and making changes as needed.
As people practice social distancing and adjust to working and learning from home, we’ve seen shifts in the way they’re using the network. While overall data traffic is higher, the overall contribution to total network loading has been relatively minor. Here are a few of the trends we’ve tracked over the last two weeks:
- People are talking and texting more. Messaging is up dramatically, with a 26% increase in SMS (texting) and a 77% increase in MMS (pictures, multi-party texts, etc.). And, the amount of time people spend on calls has increased 17% nationwide.
- People are using their smartphones to connect the household. Smartphone mobile hotspot usage is up 38% as customers share their smartphone data connections with other devices, like laptops and tablets.
- Gaming is helping everyone pass the time. Video game traffic has increased 45%!
- More people are heeding advice to #StayAtHome. In New York City, for example, we’ve seen an 86% increase in subscribers with limited mobility, meaning they connect to cell sites only in their primary location. In the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s a 77% increase, and we’re seeing similar patterns across the country!
We are constantly monitoring the network and stand prepared for any issues. We have fully redundant Network Operations Centers that operate 24/7 to monitor traffic, including calls to 911, and a widespread team of technicians ready to respond to any issues at a moment’s notice – in person or remotely. Because communications infrastructure, like wireless networks, are classified as “essential services,” network engineers from T-Mobile and across the industry are out there day in and day out working to ensure critical communications services are there for our customers. Because we know they’re counting on us. It’s the tireless work of these technicians that keeps our network humming in critical times like these, and I can’t say thank you enough to these incredible professionals.
We also continue to make moves to help everyone get through this. Yesterday, we launched T-Mobile Connect ahead of schedule to help more people get and stay connected affordably. Last week we doubled 600 MHz LTE capacity nationwide for 60 days as part of our spectrum sharing agreement with others in the industry (thank you partners and the FCC!) and we expanded the roaming geography for Sprint customers. And while the vast majority of customers already have unlimited talk, text and smartphone data on our network, for 60 days we removed data caps on applicable legacy smartphone plans, added more hotspot data for smartphone customers, expanded data for schools and much more. These important steps will help ensure all our customers – regardless of their plan – can stay connected.
Connectivity is the last thing people should be worried about right now, so rest assured that our entire team is laser focused on keeping the network running at full speed for all. And like always, #WeWontStop.