T-Mobile's Ewaldsson contrasts his carrier work with his vendor work

Ewaldsson has traded in his stylish European suits for a magenta t-shirt. (FierceWireless)

Ulf Ewaldsson was with Ericsson for nearly 30 years until he joined T-Mobile in January 2019 as the mobile carrier’s senior vice president of technology transformation. Speaking at the Big 5G Event in Denver last week, Ewaldsson told the audience that it was definitely a different perspective working for a carrier as opposed to a vendor.

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“I think the biggest surprise when I joined the carrier side is how immediate all the feedback is: the whole notion of an everyday feedback and what customers are experiencing,” said Ewaldsson. He added that vendors receive feedback from their customers, but there are a lot less of those customers, counting in the hundreds, as opposed to a carrier such as T-Mobile with millions of customers.

“The other part I never thought of as a vendor is how important the deployment strategies are,” he said. “One reason I left the vendor side is with 5G there are so many different strategies. 5G brings so many more options than before. It’s the biggest transformation in mobile since mobile technology began in the first place.”

Ewaldsson also mentioned, “Everyone wears magenta clothes.” In fact he was wearing a magenta T-shirt for his talk at the Big 5G event. This was a rather amusing contrast to his style at Ericsson, a Swedish company where the executives are known for their chic European suits. [As an aside, former Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg, who is now CEO of Verizon, showed up at the Consumer Electronics Show in January also wearing a t-shirt.]

At the Denver event, Ewaldsson mainly touted T-Mobile’s big talking points about the value of different spectrum bands. T-Mobile US is currently building out a 5G network on its 600 Mhz spectrum. “We have mmWave as well in some cities,” he said. “We haven’t activated them because it’s still not, according to us, good enough. But we have mmWave and low bands.” 

T-Mobile is also trying to persuade the FCC to approve its merger with Sprint so that it can incorporate Sprint’s mid-band spectrum into its portfolio. “Then to have mid-bands is going to give us the all-band advantage,” said Ewaldsson. The company projects that by 2024 it would be able provide 400 Mbps of speeds across all geographies in the US.

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He also stressed the importance of a 5G standalone core network. “There are no latency advantages at the moment with a non-standalone core,” he said. “That will only happen when we go to a standalone core. That will happen in the second half of next year. The industry has made a choice to go non-standalone. Beyond the second half of 2020, we’ll be moving into the lower latency. Moving more compute to the edge of the network starts to be real.”