Hitting 5G coverage target drives T-Mobile US to drink

T-Mobile US has upped the ante in the attention-seeking stakes and is marking hitting its 5G coverage target ahead of schedule with the launch of a branded gin.

There’s no obvious link between mobile connectivity and gin – apart from perhaps needing a stiff one after trying to get through to your provider’s call centre – but it’s a bit of PR fun and who are we sniff(ter) at that.

The mobile operator is obviously keen to shout about its 5G prowess. It has extended coverage to 300 million people across the US significantly earlier than its end-year goal; six months earlier, in fact.

“Now, we’re gonna celebrate in a way ONLY T-Mobile would — by bottling the Un-carrier spirit,” said Mike Sievert CEO of T-Mobile, in a statement in his usual style. Bonus points to the telco for shoehorning in the uncarrier message there.

T-Mobile’s Ultra-capacity 5G, which uses mid-band 2.5 GHz and mmWave spectrum, is available to 150 million people, it said; it is shooting for 200 million nationwide by the end of this year.

T-Mobile made the usual comparisons between itself and AT&T and Verizon, insisting that its 5G coverage is twice as broad as AT&T’s and four times ahead of Verizon’s, “and the Un-carrier keeps widening its lead,” it said.

That last point is questionable. With Verizon in particular, but also AT&T, having shelled out tens of billions of dollars for C-band spectrum earlier this year – we don’t need to hammer out the figures again – T-Mobile is going to face stiffer competition pretty soon. AT&T and Verizon are already working hard on C-band rollouts; a fortnight ago AT&T announced its first C-band call with Nokia, for example, while in May Verizon shared details of its progress in aggregating C-band and mmWave frequencies for 5G. Both companies should be able to launch C-band later this year, with more of their recently-acquired frequencies becoming available over the next couple of years. T-Mobile is ahead of the game now, but its big rivals have a lot invested in catching up…and if anything, that’s an understatement.

For now, though, T-Mobile has earned the right to party. Would-be revellers can order a bottle of T-Mobile 5Gin <groan> from Thursday; at the time of writing, the firm had yet to disclose the price, incidentally. The gin, made in partnership with Heritage Distilling Company, is available in limkited quantities, as befits a company keen to make a marketing splash. In in the interests of inclusivity, T-Mobile has also co-created a non-alcoholic option, 5Ginger Beer and even offered some typically cheesy and unsubtle cocktail recipes.

The telco is not the first to put its name to a beverage, although despite years of walking the halls at myriad industry trade shows, I can’t remember another in the telecoms space. Do correct me if I’m wrong. However, it is in good company in the broader market. Earlier this week classic rock band Kiss launched the aptly-named Cold Gin, while electric car pioneer Tesla put its name to a tequila that flew off the shelves last year, despite a $250 price tag, to name but two…and that’s before you get to Ryan Reynolds…who actually does bridge the gap between telcos and booze, come to think of it.

There are many more out there, but rest assured, your team pledges to research the branded booze market thoroughly and share our findings…should we be able to remember them.

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