T-Mobile completes first 5G data transmission on 600MHz spectrum

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T-Mobile this week achieved another milestone on its journey to deploying a mobile 5G network.

T-Mobile and Nokia have completed what they say is the world’s first 5G data transmission on 600MHz spectrum. The downlink transmission tests were completed using global 5G standards on T-Mobile’s live commercial network in Spokane, WA.

T-Mo has said that it plans to use millimeter wave (mmWave) and 600MHz spectrum for its 5G network. The higher-band mmWave spectrum will be useful for capacity, but its reach is much lower than 600MHz. T-Mobile says that while 5G mmWave sites cover less than a square mile, 5G 600MHz sites will cover hundreds of square miles. This will be important as T-Mobile works to deploy its 5G network, especially in rural areas, as it hopes to have nationwide 5G coverage in 2020.

The first 5G smartphones from T-Mobile are expected to launch in 2019. T-Mo has said that it’s building out 5G in six of the top 10 markets in the U.S., including New York and Los Angeles, and hundreds of cities across the U.S. in 2018.

Source: T-Mobile

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  • Jay Holm

    Bottom or the article, “T-Mo has said that it’s building out 5G in six of the top 10 markets in the U.S., including New York and Los Angeles, and hundreds of cities across the U.S. in 2018.”…hmm, there are 5wks left in 2018. . hmm……

    Also, they article didn’t indicate what the speed was. . .

    • JStatt

      Well, 5G has to reach certain speed thresholds to meet the technical requirements. So I’m sure it’s not slow.

      • Jay Holm

        Yeah, I would imagine 800mbps at the very least.

      • slybacon

        Can you define those speeds for 5G? Also, what were the technical speeds for LTE? I get LTE speeds from 0.5 Mbps to 200 Mbps.
        While you are looking, I’ll help clarify… 5th Generation wireless data transmission doesn’t have speed requirements (neither did or does Long Term Evolution), but it does have efficiencies built into it to help it achieve higher speeds and lower latency.

        • none

          Technically, LTE is capable of 1.8Gbps. But that would require 4CA, 256QAM downlink, 20x20MHz of spectrum on all 4 bands, and 4×4 MIMO.
          We call that LTE Advanced cat21, AT&T calls it “5G Evolution”, Verizon calls it “LTE-X”.
          Frankly, I don’t get why all the 5G hype, since really, we have the tech right now, to achieve similar speeds on LTE.

          A Sprint-TMobile merge would still be a force to be reckoned with even if 5G didn’t exist. They would still have 600MHz(enough to cover the entire US), 700MHz, 850MHz(Sprint band 25), 1900MHz(band 2 and band 26), 1700/2100MHz, and 2500MHz.
          Sprint has enough spectrum licenses to cover the whole US in 2500MHz coverage(well, every city with population above 100,000).

          Thanks to MFBI, New T-Mobile could easily have Sprint’s band 25 and 26 pretend to also be band 5 and 2, increasing LTE speeds on everyones phones(all existing T-Mobile phones). And that would also allow band 2 to pretend to be band 26, increasing coverage on older Sprint phones. T-Mobile could also refarm the 1900MHz CDMA to LTE as well, and the 800MHz ESMR.

        • slybacon

          Neville Ray is licking his chops so hard

        • Glenn Gore

          You are correct. All the carriers that offer LTE have the capability right here and now to offer hundreds of Mbps to their customers, but none do it. The reasons they don’t are myriad, but first and foremost probably is that none of them have the back haul installed at individual sites that is sufficient to provide hundreds of Mbps. When LTE was first launched, all the carriers lauded its capability for “up to” gigabit data, but they are only delivering 15-35 according to all the latest reports from Speedtest, Tom’s Guide, Open Signal, Statista, et al.

          Around here, T-Mobile uses little microwave links to daisy-chain 5-6 sites out in multiple directions to one location where the have a fiber connection. All their sites in the area have had Band 71 installed and is up and running, along with the old Band 2 and 4 they had already. What are they putting out using this combination of spectrum and back haul? I usually get 12 and occasionally up to 35 Mbps on a good day. Not horrible but pathetic when you consider all the spectrum they have at their disposal and the capability of 4G LTE technology. Is 5G really going to improve this to any noticeable degree?

          Imagine buying a car that was advertised to be capable of going 250 mph but when you drive it off the lot, you discover its top speed is 20 mph. That’s what we get from the carriers today with their LTE. They could be offering “5G”-ish levels with the technology they have right now but nope. LTE stands for “Long Term Evolution” and it was supposed to get better over time with all the technologies you mention, MIMO, carrier aggregation, etc, but none of that happened on a wide scale across the country, and it seems to already be passe and done-for in favor of the next big thing of 5G. I don’t have any faith at all that real-world 5G will be much better than what we have today with 4G LTE, whether it’s T-Mobile with their 600 Mhz or millimeter wave, or whatever. The carriers’ past records give little hope.

    • slybacon

      Every cell site that has 600 Mhz equipment installed also has 5G equipment that will only need a software update to activate 5G.
      Also, the article only states that they are building out 5G in those areas. It doesn’t say it’s activating 5G in those areas in 2018. Now, I know T-Mobile has said they will be activating some 5G in 2018, but it’s really more of a build since there are no 5G smartphones yet.

      • Jay Holm

        5G involves new hardware also, it is called “NR”, New Radio….. I heard this mmWave technology is so fragile, that even rain can cause interference….yikes!!!

        • slybacon

          Right! The 600 Mhz equipment being install supports Band 71 and n71. And the millimeter stuff is very fragile. That is why T-Mobile is laughing, because AT&T and Verizon only have mmWave spectrum available for their 5G.

        • Jay Holm

          This 5G stuff, and it’s potential to change the world is as exciting as Tesla, and SpaceX (the BFR rocket)…so many exciting things happening in 2019/2020!!!

        • slybacon

          Don’t forget about SpaceX’s new satellite internet in 2020 that will certainly use 5G and blanket the earth. :)

        • Jay Holm

          Yep, 7,500+ satellites…Starlink is supposed to help fund SpaceX development of the Big Falcon Rocket, which will eventually phase out the Falcon 9.

        • riverhorse

          I really hope this works out and becomes the expected boon to travel and all remote areas; alongside the sister energy advancements.
          What keeps many from being a true nomad and/or traveling to many desired locations is unreliable internet, cellular, electricity, and fuel.
          Dangers, hazards, and knucklehead humans can be dealt with / are part of life. But being back in the Stone Age– stranded, incommunicado and at the total mercy of the elements is absolutely senseless in this day and age, on this planet.

        • Jason Caprio

          T-Mobile may have a lot of 600MHz, but Verizon has complete nationwide 850MHz spectrum currently being refarmed from CDMA to Band 5 LTE alongside of their already nationwide 700MHz. I’m sure it can be repurposed to 5G as well. It is a very negligible difference in terms of distance/propagation between 600/700/850MHz. Not to mention, they have coast to coast licenses for mmWave. Competition is going to be fierce when 5G rolls out!

        • slybacon

          Sprint (and the New T-Mobile) also has a ton of nationwide 800 Mhz SMR. I would say the propagation distance is only negligible because towers are pretty much set where they are and aren’t going to change much. It is an exciting time for wireless advancements.

        • Jason Caprio

          Not to mention all that 2.6GHz. A combined T-Mobile/Sprint will be a force to be reckoned with if they put to use all that dormant mid-band spectrum.

        • Fabian Cortez

          but Verizon has complete nationwide 850MHz spectrum currently being refarmed from CDMA to Band 5 LTE

          This isn’t true.

        • PC_Tool

          Don’t fool yourself. Both AT&T and Verizon will be using their existing network as the backbone for the 5G…just like T-Mobile will be doing with their upgraded network after the 600Mhz deployment is complete.

          In that regard, AT&T and VZW are actually ahead. T-Mobile is just now starting to deploy the coverage/long haul network bands that will be required. AT&T and VZW have ’em. They still need to get to the rural areas, but all three are actively working on that.

          In the end, it just goes to benefit all of us – regardless of our choice of carrier.

        • slybacon

          Right. 4G LTE and 5G will operate simultaneously on devices. Something we haven’t seen before.

        • Jason Caprio

          I believe you are right. 4G and 5G is like Wireless N and AC. They should hopefully play nicely together.

        • slybacon

          I’ve read this many times, and T-Mobile has stated it in their presentations. That’s what AT&T refers to as their
          “5G Evolution” and others as their “backbone of 5G”

        • slybacon

          Wireless N and AC, which are now called WiFi 4 and WiFi 5. In the next year or two, WiFi 6 will be launching.

        • slybacon

          Wait, which bands are required? Are you talking about the “backbone” bands? And you are saying these are required for 5G? I don’t think there are any LTE bands actually required for 5G to work…

    • Sean sorlie

      building out doesn’t mean completing. They are deploying equipment in those cities. Also they have previously stated “5G data speeds up to 4.1 Gbps”.

  • Sharti24

    I bet the 2020 iPhone will have 5G

    • none

      Make that 2021 or 2022. T-Mobile started deploying band 12 in 2014, but iPhone didn’t support it until 2015 iPhone 6S…
      T-Mobile will begin deploying fixed-5G service in 2019(my guestimate) and 5G phone service in 2020. Expect 5G-capable phones in 2019, and 5G-capable iPhones in 2021.

      • Sharti24

        It was Dec. 2014 in like 4 cities for band 12. So yes the 2015 made sense at the time for Apple

    • Brett S

      I’m still thinking it’ll be next year. I think Samsung is launching 5G I’m the Spring so if Apple doesn’t by the fall they’ll look really behind.

  • riverhorse

    This is a fantabuously informative thread. I nominate it for the Hall of Fame & Best of 2018. Kudos to all contributors.

  • Sharti24

    Saw this on reddit and I agree

    “Tmobile should just forego its decision to split its 600 MHz spectrum into part LTE and part 5G. Once 600 MHz is cleared with 5G NR equipment available, they should just go all-in into 5G (eg: 10×10, 15×15, 20×20 whereever available). For most parts of the nation, there is still 700 MHz for LTE that can provide some low band coverage and Tmobile should stick to LTE for 700 MHz until more and more folks get 5G smartphones maybe switch to 5G in 2020 – 2021.”

    • slybacon

      I don’t know the answer to my own question, but what does it actually take to switch 600 MHz from LTE to 5G? With their 600 MHz 5G equipment being able to go live with a software update, could they also simply reallocate the 600 MHz LTE to 5G at any point in time with a software update?? They will already have all equipment installed on the tower.

      • Sharti24

        So that was you eh?

        • slybacon

          Haha, no that wasn’t me on a Reddit. I don’t use Reddit. I was referring to the questions I was about to ask in that same post above. Lol.

      • SirStephenH

        If they have 5G equipment installed at the location then they could reallocate through software. Turning on any new technology or using any new bands of spectrum require a bit of testing, mapping, and tweaking in the area though.

  • timmyjoe42

    “The first 5G smartphones are set to launch in 2019”? I thought that all of the new devices that T-Mobile is already selling have band 71 and should be compatible with the 600mhz spectrum. What am I missing?

    • Prode

      Just because they work with 600mhz doesn’t mean that they can do 5G. My guess is they are going to need a new modem again to get that part to turn on.

    • SirStephenH

      Spectrum (bands 2, 4, 12, 66, 71, etc) and cellular technologies (2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, etc) are two very different things. Spectrum is used to transmit information but the technology used is what determines how that information is transmitted over the spectrum. You will need a device compatible with both the spectrum and the technology used.

      • Phone Guy

        Very clear explanation. Excellent

  • none

    I hope T-Mobile will *sell* those cell-spot things. The ones that plug into a router and transmit an LTE signal usable by all phones. So, I can just HODL it and plug it in once LTE towers go away so my (by that point) ancient phones will still work at home…

    • Brett S

      OK I’ll bite… why won’t you just upgrade?

      P.S. LTE will be around a for a while probably longer than your phone.

      • none

        I probably will upgrade…
        It’s not about just refusing to upgrade, it’s about perfectly useable devices being rendered useless by no longer being operable on the networks that they were designed for.
        As an example, I have my old LG G2 sitting around as a spare phone, eventually T-Mobile will shut down their GSM and HSPA networks and it won’t be able to make calls. If that phone is to stay in service, it will only work with a VoIP program over mid-band LTE.
        But guess what, it runs Android 8.1 Oreo quite nicely thanks to custom ROM…

        It’s about being *forced* to upgrade…

        • Brett S

          I think that’s what people said about horse drawn carriages when we first got cars? ;)

        • SirStephenH

          Why not ask them to bring back analog while you’re at it? If carriers kept around every technology for backwards compatibility then there would be no progress.

          2g (EDGE) and especially 3g (UMTS, HSPA+) are very wasteful technologies compared to 4g (LTE) and 5G and SHOULD be shut down to make way for future improvements. That said, LTE will be around for a long time and, as Brett said, will outlast your phone.

        • It will be YEARS before a LTE phone will be obsolete…

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