Cisco lands T-Mobile US enterprise 5G FWA gig

Deutsche Telekom's US operation is making steady progress in the corporate sector, and it has just done a deal with Cisco that could help it make further gains.

Nick Wood

March 1, 2023

4 Min Read
Cisco lands T-Mobile US enterprise 5G FWA gig

Deutsche Telekom’s US operation is making steady progress in the corporate sector, and it has just done a deal with Cisco that could help it make further gains.

Cisco announced at Mobile World Congress this week that T-Mobile for Business will range its first ever 5G cellular gateways for fixed wireless access (FWA) services. Called the Cisco Meraki MG51 and MG51E (the ‘E’ means it has external as opposed to internal antennas), they make full use of Meraki’s cloud-based suite of software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) solutions.

It means the gateways support same-day connectivity and zero-touch provisioning, which means business customers shouldn’t need an on-site installer to get up and running. They also come with Cisco Meraki’s range of network security solutions, including VPN, firewall, content filtering and so-on. In terms of throughput, they support maximums of 2 Gbps on the downlink and 300 Mbps on the uplink.

5G FWA is proving a popular alternative to fixed-broadband in the US consumer market – T-Mobile alone added 2 million customers in 2022 – so extending that proposition into the business market makes sense. However, we might never find out exactly how well the MG51 and MG51E go down with corporate clients.

The reason being, while the self-styled ‘uncarrier’ typically cannot wait to share its quarterly customer metrics, it is uncarrier-istically tight-lipped when it comes to discussing how many of those are business users.

Callie Field, president of T-Mobile’s Business Group, said on the company’s most recent investor call last month that her department saw an increase in phone net additions in every quarter of 2022. Q4 was particularly strong, representing the fifth consecutive quarter of business Internet customer growth, the highest ever postpaid phone net adds, and another quarter of service revenue growth.

“Some of our key wins in strategic verticals we found in the airline industry, where we’ve won nine out of 10 major airlines, growing our base with these customers by over 15 percent in Q4 alone. In the health care industry, we welcomed Ensign, who is a nursing company, who’s deploying our mobility-as-a-service solution to their 25,000 employees,” she commented.

T-Mobile also won two more large financial institutional customers in Q4, she said, bringing the total in this particular vertical to 24.

Field and her colleagues attributed the performance to T-Mobile’s aggressive 5G deployment, which has piqued the interest of CIOs.

“CIOs are picking us because we have the best network and the best solutions. And they’re interested in what we can bring in 5G that our competitors are behind on,” said T-Mobile CFO Peter Osvaldik, on that same investor call.

“In a modern workplace where CIOs are focused on productivity, [and] digital transformation, these are more considered sales,” said Field. “And therefore, it matters that we have a two-year head start in 5G network leadership. It matters that we deploy customer-driven coverage, and we’re differentiated as a superior network and unparalleled service model.”

In a presentation at its most recent analyst day – which is nearly a year ago now – T-Mobile said it wants to grow its enterprise market share from 10 percent to 20 percent in the five years to 2025. It also aims to drive double-digit growth in service revenues at its enterprise and public sector divisions.

If all goes well, the new Cisco gateways should further broaden the telco’s appeal.

“We have crossed many 5G milestones and world-firsts with Cisco and today is no exception as T-Mobile is the first to offer this cutting-edge Cisco Meraki technology,” said Mishka Dehghan, SVP of strategy, product, and solutions engineering at T-Mobile Business Group, in a statement on Monday. “This marks another significant achievement in how T-Mobile delivers to businesses the fastest and simplest way to scale 5G business Internet anywhere.”

“The future of connectivity is wireless, and Cisco and T-Mobile are helping customers across all industries realise how 5G wireless technology can transform their business,” added Masum Mir, SVP of provider mobility at Cisco Networking. “Together, we are leading the new era of 5G, helping businesses from small to large with simple, secure and reliable connectivity solutions that help them go fast and grow fast.”


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About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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