Last month, T-Mobile announced that it was getting free access to extra 600MHz spectrum from companies like Dish, Bluewater, and Comcast to help bolster its network during the coronavirus pandemic. T-Mo said that it effectively doubled its total 600MHz LTE capacity across the US, and now a new report has shed more light on what effect those extra airwaves have had on T-Mo’s network.
A report from Opensignal notes that T-Mobile took less than three days to begin deploying the 600MHz spectrum it got access to from other companies. At the start of March, T-Mo was using 600MHz for 4G LTE in 84 of the top 100 Cellular Market Areas (CMAs) in the US. That includes 10MHz of paired spectrum (5MHz up, 5MHz down) in 82 CMAs and 20MHz in Washington DC and Springfield MA.
On March 16th, just a few days after T-Mo announced it was getting that 600MHz spectrum, Opensignal spotted changes in T-Mobile’s use of the 600MHz band. Two days later, T-Mo had deployed additional 600MHz spectrum in 76 CMAs. And by the end of March, it had an average of 26.6MHz of 600MHz spectrum in 89 of the top 100 CMAs.
T-Mobile also increased the amount of spectrum in use for 4G LTE in 32 markets, typically going from 10MHz to 20MHz, then to 30MHz.
These extra 600MHz airwaves resulted in faster speeds for customers. At the start of March, Opensignal users saw an average download speed of 9.9Mbps on the 600MHz band. At the end of March, that average speed had more than doubled to 20.2Mbps.
Many people are self-isolating at home right now and relying more on the internet to stay entertained and to get work done. We knew that this extra 600MHz spectrum would give T-Mobile’s network a boost and help customers stay connected, but it’s still interesting to see the hard numbers like we got today.
When T-Mobile announced that it was getting extra 600MHz spectrum from Dish, Bluewater, Omega Wireless, Channel 51, and others, it said it’d be getting access to those airwaves for 60 days. That means that with its current agreements, T-Mobile will have the additional 600MHz spectrum until around May 12th.
Have you noticed any improvements in T-Mobile’s 600MHz coverage over the past few weeks?