T-Mobile completes world’s first 5G data call on 600MHz spectrum

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T-Mobile is starting off 2019 with another 5G milestone.

T-Mobile today announced that it’s completed the world’s first 5G data call and video call on 600MHz spectrum. T-Mo teamed up with Intel and Ericsson to conduct the call, which was completed on a live commercial network. Using 600MHz, the three teams generated a 5G signal that can cover more than a thousand square miles from a single tower.

T-Mo also completed a tri-band 5G video call with three users on 600MHz, 28GHz, and 39GHz spectrum bands.

As it’s been rolling out 600MHz LTE coverage, T-Mobile has been deploying 5G-ready equipment to prepare for its eventual 5G rollout. The carrier has said that it will begin lighting up its 5G coverage in 2019 and will have nationwide 5G coverage in 2020 using a combination of spectrum bands. The first 5G smartphones are expected to launch this year, including a model from Samsung.

Source: T-Mobile

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  • MisterListerSir

    "Using 600MHz, the three teams generated a 5G signal that can cover more than a thousand square miles from a single tower."

    This is so much PR bull.

    600Mhz may be able to cover large areas, but there’s no way it is hitting Gbit speeds at those distances simply because physics.

    Apparently the carriers can just slap 5G on pretty much anything they want.

    • kev2684

      are you surprised? HSPA+ is “4G” according to AT&T and T-Mobile.

      • MisterListerSir

        No; I wouldn’t call what I am feeling “surprise”. They’ve pulled this long enough, as you know, that it’s just more of the same.

        Doesn’t hurt to call it out when they make it so incredibly blatant though. :)

      • SirStephenH

        Except this IS 5G. There is no minimum speed defined for 5G, it’s all about the technology.

    • Sean sorlie

      So being able to provide lower than 5g speeds even at 20-50MBPS at 1000 square miles per tower isn’t worth praising? This is totally game changing for rural America…

      • slybacon

        Also, there is no defined speed for 5G. Any speed on “5G NR” is still 5G. Just like any speed on 4G LTE is still 4G LTE.

      • MisterListerSir

        So being able to provide lower than 5g speeds even at 20-50MBPS at 1000 square miles per tower isn't worth praising?

        I didn’t say that anywhere. Not sure what comments you’re reading…

        600Mhz is great. Giving people the impression that what is being advertised as 5G (High speeds) is available over 600Mhz is not, at least, IMO.

        • SirStephenH

          There is no minimum speed specified for 5G, it’s all about the technology used. You are using an incorrect definition of 5G.

    • KMB877

      Wondering if anyone understand that 1’000 square miles = a circle with only18 miles radius. That’s it! Or, a square with 32 x 32 miles.

      • marque2

        Even that doesnt mean much. I just drove from San Diego to Tucson and both ways from mile marker 37 to 73 on I-8 I was getting 3-5 bars yet on two different phones but wasn’t able to get a data feed.

        I also wonder – since returning to my apartment the band 12 seems to be boosted. I now get -106db instead of -119 a big boost and yet the data on band 12 is still 0.16 Mbps. I guess I should he happy my phone shows 4 bars instead of 2. Tower is only a mile away.

        • KMB877

          Absolutely, actually it’s way worst into the real life. If the tower antenna has 100 FT from the ground, the horizon line it’s only 13 miles away. And, the 18 miles radius I was referring earlier, doesn’t count hills, trees, buildings…
          However, I was wondering myself why your signal was increased from -119 dB to – 106 dB if the tower its so close to you.

        • SirStephenH

          Big gains will be seen in areas already covered by band 12 though. It takes 0.8 towers with band 71 to cover the same area as 1 tower with band 12. Lower spectrum also does better at hugging terrain too so it’ll get to more areas stuck in vallies and over hills.

        • SirStephenH

          T-Mobile generally considers anything under 1Mbps completely unacceptable. Complain to T-Mobile technical support via Twitter or by dialing 611 on your T-Mobile phone.

          T-Mobile’s holding off on a lot of stuff right now though in areas well covered by Sprint, hoping the merger goes through.

    • JStatt

      From the perspective of calling it 5G, I agree it’s a stretch. It’s a big breakthrough for reaching rural areas with fast speeds though. It’s more than capable of consistent 100 down, which in the boonies is a new world.

      • SirStephenH

        5G is all about the technology used, which T-Mobile is following. There is no minimum speed specified.

    • none

      While it may not be gigabit speeds, it IS using the 5G protocol.
      The 5G standard is called 5G-NR, it can scale from speeds equivalent to current LTE networks running on the same bands we use now(600MHz, 700 MHz, 1900MHz and 2100/1700MHz), BUT it can ALSO scale to higher bands(24GHz, 28GHz, and 36GHz).

      This IS the 5GNR radio system, but it’s using the same low bands we also use for LTE.

      If you are going to argue that it’s not 5G because its using refarmed LTE spectrum, then you will be happy to know that most of the band 2 LTE spectrum we use right now, used to be use for 2G service.

      • SirStephenH

        There’s actually no minimum speed defined, only a maximum of 20Gbps.

    • kpb321

      It is entirely possible to actually use 5G on 600Mhz. Not the silly calling HSPA+ 4G T-mobile did or the calling LTE-Advanced 5Ge that AT&T just started doing but real honest 5G on 600Mhz. Yes the speed won’t be as impressive and over the top as 5G on 28GHz and 39GHz would be but it should still be incrementally better than LTE-Advanced would be on the same amount of spectrum. LTE or 5G on the 600mhz block for T-Mobile should be noticeably better than their existing 700Mhz coverage as T-Mobile picked up a lot more spectrum in the 600Mhz auction than they have in the 700Mhz block.

      • marque2

        The guess is about 15% better at 600Mhz

      • SirStephenH

        5G is 15-50% more efficient compared to LTE, using the same spectrum.

  • Jay Holm

    Hmm, how bout announcing NEW 600mhz markets? Zip code 77520, Baytown, Houston…..Galveston. . .

    • MisterListerSir

      Houston is phase 2. Should complete by April.

      Run a google search for 600mhz and hit the first link (should be spectrum-gateway). It’ll give you all the info you need. :)

      • Jay Holm

        It says testing starts 12/1, and ends 4/12, does that mean everywhever inside the large circle for 600mhz phase 2 will be covered with Band 71 by 4/12?

        • MisterListerSir

          My assumption is that shortly after “testing” you’ll see an announcement like the almost weekly ones we get here regarding 600Mhz from T-Mobile and that will indicate it is “live”.

          Unfortunately, that isn’t going to mean much to any of us if it is being limited by hardware and software on our devices to be accessible only with “5G” hardware; which is what I suspect is the case.

        • JStatt

          I think they’re using the 600mhz mostly in “regular” LTE mode until 5G is ready aren’t they? Thought that’s what they announced. Using the band for 5G is still being tested (thus this article about the first successful call tested). Could be wrong.

        • SirStephenH

          T-Mobile’s plan has been to have exactly 10+10MHz of low-band (bands 12 and/or 71) LTE everywhere and then use the rest (a minimum of 10+10MHz of band 71) for 5G. If you’re in an area with band 12 then it’ll be 5+5MHz of band 12 + 5+5MHz of band 71 for LTE, if you’re not, then it’ll be 10+10MHz of band 71 for LTE. As far as I know, T-Mobile is sticking with 10+10MHz of low-band LTE, even in areas where 5G isn’t being built out yet.

        • SirStephenH

          Band 71 is being used for both LTE and 5G. There is no limiting factor with LTE for hardware except that it has to support band 71. Band 71 IS NOT only for 5G.

        • marque2

          Probably not. We are still waiting for 600 Mix in many phase one markets including Tucson. 2 months after the phase and counting.

        • SirStephenH

          T-Mobile is prioritizing band 71 deployment in areas without band 12 first. Tucson already has band 12 so it isn’t at the top of the list.

        • marque2

          It would be nice if band 12 worked. I can only access band 12 from my apartment with a relatively clear shot to two towers about a mile away. And the data rate is 0.16 Mbps. I can’t make VoLTE calls on it either – need to use my Wi-Fi or folks cant hear me.

        • SirStephenH

          The testing part of the phase is still part of the shutdown, it has nothing to do with carriers adding coverage. TV stations make sure that the move worked and everyone makes sure that the spectrum is actually clear after the stations go silent. Coverage will be added once the carriers build it out AFTER the phase is complete.

      • marque2

        The phases are misleading. Tucson was Phase 1 which finished in November – but almost two months later still nothing.

        I have been assured that Mobile is probably still jist teating things out.

        • MisterListerSir

          We likely won’t see it on existing phones.

        • marque2

          Why? My phone is the first to support 600Mhz, I believe. (As in it may have been second) LG V30.

        • MisterListerSir

          You’ll likely need updates for the modem software on your device to access this….and I highly doubt many OEMs are going to bake that in retroactively. They want to sell new ones, with shiny “5G” logos.

        • SirStephenH

          Nothing misleading about it at all. The end of a phase is when carriers can begin work on deployment. This means it’ll be at least a couple of months untill areas start coming online because coverage doesn’t exist at the end of a phase. To add to that, each phase opens up thousands of square miles of area and there is no way covering all of that immediately. Patience young Padawan.

        • marque2

          I call BS – the end of the phase is when T-Mobile can turn on nand 71 at the towers. They could have imstalled the new transmitters 2 years ago if they wanted. Also they made a big marketing hubaballo about these phases so the customers – including I assumed there would be service at the end of the phase. If They can only install now and I need to wait another six months I can definitely say the company was being quite misleading to us.

          So basically to everyone getting excited about these phases should be dissapointed and expect nothing when they are complete.

  • Glenn Gore

    Claiming 1000 square miles “covered” by individual sites will absolve T-Mobile from having to add additional sites, and with no governmental agency charged with verifying that such coverage exists and at what level, they will get away with it. There is a T-Mobile Band 71 site 5 miles south of town here that if you are within half a mile of it you can get around 80 Mbps data. Problem is, there is not a single house within that radius of the tower, or even within 2 miles of it, and by the time you get here 5 miles away, the maximum I have ever seen is 25 Mbps. This tower serves two towns, 5 miles equidistant from each, with both receiving FAR less than the maximum available AT the site. Neither town is receiving the maximum possible good service, just something that is adequate. No one is getting the best service this site can put out. But T-Mobile is saving money by not having to build a site IN each town. Meanwhile AT&T and Verizon both have sites IN each town that provide 80 and 45 Mbps respectively.

    • SirStephenH

      So you’re complaining that T-Mobile is covering the middle of nowhere? I thought covering the middle of nowhere was the one thing you Verizon fanboys/trolls like to talk about.

      25Mbps is very good for low-band and these unnamed, possibly imaginary, cities will probably eventually receive microcells for full 5G coverage.

      What about Sprint coverage? T-Mobile is holding off on upgrades in areas it expects to gain Sprint equipment from the merger if it goes through.

      • Glenn Gore

        I am not a Verizon fanboy, please don’t assign that label to me. I am not a Verizon customer. I am actually a T-Mobile customer, that is how I have exact knowledge about the data speed level that T-Mobile is offering in either town as well as in the country by the site. I have friends who are Verizon and AT&T customers and I have looked at Speedtest results on their phones from their carriers.
        I am saying that because of less than ideal site placement, no one in either town is getting the best possible service from T-Mobile, while the other carriers who provide service to the same area ARE giving their customers the best possible service because of site placement IN those towns as well as from sites in the country. Verizon and AT&T are also on the tower that contains the T-Mobile site I am referring to, so in this case, yes, they both are providing service in “the middle of nowhere”. I don’t know anything about Sprint service since Sprint has never offered service here, so there is nothing to be gained in this area in a merger.

        • marque2

          Yeah if there is a mountain between the tower and the cell location 25 miles will still get you nothing. I get nothing amd two towers are less than a mile from my apartment. Need to use cable to get phone and data. Seems there is something is wrong with the towers.

        • Glenn Gore

          Yes, T-Mobile has long been known for “splitting the difference” where there are two towns that need to be serviced and instead of placing sites in each town they put one halfway between the two and claim both are covered, even though there may be obstacles or other factors that preclude residents of either town from having the best-quality service. All this while other carriers do actually place their sites IN both towns as well as halfway between, thereby providing good blanket coverage.

          T-Mobile is getting better at this, and their Band 71 spectrum is helping the situation, but the fact remains that distance degrades all signals and service, regardless of the frequency being used, so at some point sites will have to be placed IN those towns so that customers will be served well, otherwise why bother with T-Mobile if you want the best service because they will always be offering worse service than the other carriers? T-Mobile has done a very good job at blanketing the western half of Oklahoma with Band 71 and with the recent relocation of the Oklahoma City TV stations, hopefully they can expand and conquer even more territory.

  • MisterListerSir

    I was incorrect – and in being so, I perfectly exemplified the problem I have with what they are doing.

    No-one cares about the protocol. 5G, as advertised (meaning, to most non-technical users), is is not just a protocol. It is both speed and availability. It’s going to seem like bait-n-switch to an awful lot of folks.

    …but they’re pretty used to it these days. ;-)

  • Christina

    Focus on your existing coverage FIRST, T-Mobile! Or launch way more unlocked phones that support band 71, already. Goddamn.