T-Mobile standalone 5G launch expands 5G coverage by 30 percent

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After teasing its upcoming standalone 5G rollout a few months ago, T-Mobile today officially flipped the switch.

T-Mobile’s standalone 5G network is now live, and the carrier touts that it’s the “world’s first nationwide standalone 5G network.” By activating standalone 5G, T-Mobile has increased its overall 5G coverage by 30 percent, with the 5G network now reaching nearly 250 million people in more than 7,500 cities and towns across 1.3 million square miles.

In addition to that expanded coverage, standalone 5G can help to bring lower latency. T-Mobile touts that in areas with standalone 5G, its engineers have already seen up to a 40% improvement in latency during their testing.

Standalone 5G means that the 5G signal doesn’t need to be anchored to 4G LTE like non-standalone 5G does. With T-Mobile, its 600MHz 5G has been combined with mid-band LTE but that means that the 600MHz 5G can only reach as far as the mid-band LTE signal. The rollout of standalone allows the 600MHz 5G to reach farther than the mid-band signal.

Today T-Mobile is updating a few of its devices to enable them to access its new standalone 5G coverage. The Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+, and Galaxy S20 Ultra are all receiving updates today to enable standalone 5G, and the OnePlus 8 is also receiving an update to turn on standalone.

T-Mobile confirmed to TmoNews that it plans to enable standalone 5G on the Galaxy Note 10+ 5G, Galaxy A71 5G, OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren, and LG V60 ThinQ 5G as well.

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Source: T-Mobile

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  • KMB877

    I’m confused.

    If I’m going to buy my own unlocked device (with all 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE and 5G T-mobile bands), is not going to work on 5G?! Example: OnePlus, etc.

    • just use the network checker on tmobile website. But it should

    • jonzey231

      Is this a question? It doesn’t really make sense.

      • KMB877

        Yes, it was a question. An unlocked 5G device will work on T-mobile stand alone network?

        • jonzey231

          As long as the the bands and frequencies are supported, yes.

          You’ll need to do your research before buying the device and compare the phones network connectivity specs to T-Mo’s 5G.

        • dtam

          Eventually but I think it will need to get an update before it will work.

  • Joe

    Yeah. I really want this to improve coverage in the mountains when driving on i77 as well as the mountains on the border of NC and TN. But it does not look like it to me.

  • Willie D

    All I want is their LTE network in San Francisco to be faster than HSPA 1.3 speeds

  • Mike Smith

    This is exciting, pulled my S20 Ultra out of a drawer (I’m an iPhone guy) and downloading the update. Looking forward to driving around with Cell Mapper if they’ve even updated it yet?

    One thing that wasn’t clear to me from the article. Is this separate from their existing 5G or replacing it immediately? If the latter, then some 5G phones would lose access?

    • iansltx

      It’s definitely not the latter; I haven’t gotten the update yet on my S20 and I can still connect to 5G.

    • Joe

      They did update there map. This upgrade strangle did not add that much brand new coverage, mostly just added 5G to more places. Also I find it strange that where I am my phone says 5G but it’s not using any NR bands it’s just LTE labeled as 5G. I am becoming more and more suspicions of T-mobiles practices.

      • iansltx

        Your phone is connected to a tower that can aggregate with NR. It’s a known issue for TMo in particular.

  • moonoverparma

    Does the phone have to be a T-Mobile branded phone to take advantage of the stand alone 5G network?

  • riverhorse

    If I understand this correctly, only the TMo-branded phones for which TMo worked up a firmware update can access the standalone 5G.
    The only exceptions would be with independent dev work and manufacturer firmware update.
    And I would also assume thatbut some of the old anchored 5G bandwidth is still left on for all other 5G models- and even for the ones with the firmware update…like for when the standalone signal is weak or not penetrating…

    I stand ready to be corrected.

    • Glenn Gore

      So my T-Mobile McLaren would need a software/firmware update before it can access these standalone sites? I did not receive any updates yesterday.

      • riverhorse

        Your update is not among this initial batch, but will come at a later date.

        Who knows when later will be.

        • Glenn Gore

          That’s what I figured, thanks for the info. They didn’t add any coverage within 80 miles of me but it’s nice to have access when I’m somewhere else. I do a lot of Cellmapper driving in my area.

  • Greg Victor

    Will the unlocked s20s sold by Samsung be able to take part in the stand alone party??

    • AA-Ron

      That’s what I’m trying to figure out

  • Mike

    I laugh at all these cute terms that Tmobile comes up with, like stand alone, that people get obsessed with. In this case it’s mostly just 600mhz with the so called stand alone, so the proof will be when speeds look something like 200 or more mbps. All these terms mean, time to get a new phone, so watch out for your stand alone wallet… lol at the hype.

    • slybacon

      Standalone and Non-Standalone are 5G specifications, not invented by T-Mobile.
      Verizon and AT&T only run non-standalone 5G networks right now, so they are limited to 4G tech with a 5G connection.

      • Mike

        Others don’t hype it up….in the end all the carriers will have 5g in one shape. Stand alone or not…what tech data do you have that says how 5g stand alone will perform above LTE?

        • slybacon

          SA doesn’t rely on legacy 4G. Done.

        • Mike

          Ok, so bascially it dont mean a thing… so no hype needed.

        • slybacon

          I think that flew right over your head… NSA 5G uses 4G backhaul (think AT&T and Verizon).

        • Mike

          So they use it. It’s not that Tmobile is using it everywhere yet. They have to keep moving because they brought all the Sprint customers over to Tmobile network and it’s probably over loaded on some sites for LTE. So for stand alone to be good, all bands need to be moved to it. Haven’t heard a word about band 2 and 4? Until all that is moved then they can say we are all 5g stand alone.

        • slybacon

          Stand Alone 5G has nothing to do with 4G LTE existing or not. LTE will exist for maybe another 5-10 years. But 5G will (and is for T-Mobile now) it’s own network (from the antenas to the servers). That’s essentially what Stand Alone means. You should do some research on SA vs NSA.

        • Mike

          Well they don’t have it stand alone in many places, just hype so people go rush and pay for an over priced phone..Here it’s far from stand alone 5g in Florida. Matter of fact lucky to even get 2 meg download speed currently.
          Btw, most won’t even know what the phone is set on, the programming might just keep phones on LTE while showing 5g is there. So, so much for the hype. Maybe 5 years from now 5g might actually be something

        • Mike Smith

          T-Mobile is 5G stand alone across the entire footprint. Speed has nothing to do with it.

        • ericdabbs

          @Mike you mean how ATT announces 5Ge which is basically just LTE Advanced technology. All carriers play these buzzword games to gain hype.

          Also did you know that Verizon 5G Home Internet was not based on the 3GPP version of 5G. When it was released the 5G standards were not finalized yet so its not even true 5G accepted standards.

    • ericdabbs

      @Mike ROFL man…you thought standalone 5G was a “cute” term that Tmobile made up? Gotta educate yourself more before criticizing Tmobile. Also you need to have a firmware upgrade before your phone can take advantage of standalone 5G. Just because towers are upgrade to standalone 5G doesn’t mean you can just take advantage of it at the moment without the firmware upgrade.

      • Natural skeptic

        He’s probably walking around downtown Manhattan looking for Verizons mythical mmWave 5G……Legere definitely left huge shoes to fill at T-mobile, but the roadmap is most likely a couple of years old, and Mike Sievert only needs to make sure the roadmap is being executed in a smart way.

        • Mike

          Verizon aint just sitting around, they are building out also, but they don’t hype themselves, they do the work needed. I want to know why Legere left? Wonder if it had to do with the German Tmobile making a change to pay less for salary of Mike?

        • ericdabbs

          Verizon is going to take a very long time to get a decent broad 5G coverage if they are only deploying mmwave 5G. This is why Verizon needs to rely on DSS technology so that they can start to refarm some of its AWS holdings to deploy some mid band 5G.

        • Mike Smith

          Pretty much they are, they’ve never been successful at anything… why start now?

        • Mike Smith

          “Building out”? Actually, no they are not. They don’t have any spectrum to build out and none is for sale. They’re fucked, and they are quite literally sitting around.

      • Mike

        Well they are the only ones saying it, others are doing it a little different, so it revolves around hype. Please explain how stand alone 5g is going to make 600 mhz better? Note I already know what stand alone means in the simple sense. Tell me the technical aspect.

        • ericdabbs

          Because Standalone 5G is true 5G and is the goal for all wireless carriers since Standalone 5G has the true 5G networking core . Non-Standalone 5G (which relies on LTE) is an intermediate bridge between 4G and 5G which is currently deployed on all wireless carriers because the Standalone 5G standards were not completely defined yet and it allows wireless carriers to begin deploying the groundwork elements for 5G. The standards for Standalone 5G were passed earlier this year so now the initial Standalone 5G software is ready by Ericsson and Nokia to be deployed onto the network.

          Put it this way eventually all mobile traffic will migrate to Standalone 5G as Tmobile will eventually reduce the amount of LTE in the network in the next few years. Standalone 5G also benefits not only in the coverage and speeds but the latency for 5G is suppose to be in the single digits which is not usually the case with LTE. Obviously on top of that other new technologies will arise from like AR and connected cars which will all use 5G technology.

          Yes the fact that Tmobile talks about Standalone 5G doesn’t mean that they just made up the term like you think they did. Sure its still in the early phases and I wish Tmobile held off on announcing Standalone 5G until end of 2020 to give themselves more time to build out the 600 MHz and 2.5 GHz 5G network but unfortunately wireless carriers take pride in trying to be the first to announce certain technologies.

        • Mike

          Ok, thanks for explaining some. But I still want to know how 5g stand alone is going to make 600 mhz band better ? Don’t think the speed will get better. Matter of fact once they dump everyone on to stand alone 5g, I’m sure the speed will get slower. Now if they would add more towers in between the sites they have now, then maybe I could see huge improvements.

        • Mike Smith

          T-Mobile is using a layer cake strategy… 600Mhz is for wide area coverage and building penetration. The mid-band from Sprint will provide the speed, and mmW for dense indoor environments like arenas, airports, etc. No one else is even close.

        • Mike

          Well again the others are not just sitting around. Once Tmobile has 2.5g on in many places then I will consider them in some lead. Really what they are doing with 600mhz is just filling in holes, much like they did with 700 mhz, which is so close to 600 mhz, no real difference. I will eventually join the hype, but I’m not paying 1000.00 for it.

        • Mike Smith

          Don’t blame you, that’s probably a years worth of income for you?

        • Mike Smith

          5G SA makes 600Mhz usable 30% further and reduces latency. It will be the 5G anchor while softer ranger and higher bandwidth 2.5Ghz band will provide the blazing speeds.

          Now you know?

        • Mike Smith

          Yes, they are the only one saying it, because they’re a couple years ahead of anyone else in rolling out 5G.

    • AA-Ron

      Probably just mad he doesn’t have a phone that can take advantage of SA 5G

      • Mike

        Hehe, guess they will need to upgrade a phone, for a slight fee, and that fee for most phones seem to be near 1000.00 mark.

    • Mike Smith

      That T-Mobile “came up with”? 5G SA is part of the 5G NR standard. T-Mobile had nothing to do with it. Google and learn.

  • Glenn Gore

    Eh, no change here in Oklahoma, still got that huge hole in the western half of the state that contains 3 cities of 15,000 each in a 40 mile stretch along I-40 that they have decided not to upgrade to 5G. I am thinking that if you already had 5G coverage, this announcement means that it might extend out a bit farther than it did before, but if you had none to begin with, in other words the sites around you did not have 5G activated already, they did not activate 5G on any new sites yesterday. This is all about squeezing more distance out of existing sites. The rest of their coverage area will have to wait a while longer.

    The fact that they did not specify any new territory or areas that now have 5G coverage that did not have it before speaks volumes. In recent times, T-Mobile has always specified new cities and towns where they added or upgraded service in monthly press releases, but they do not do that any more.

    • Joe

      Nah there are a lot of new places that appear to have gotten 5G but mostly North and South Dakota, the UP of Michigan. But for the rest of areas they just increase the reach of the existing towers (however I do not buileve they did this on all the towers at all maybe 1/2 of there towers).

    • Mike

      Yep, that sounds exactly right about stretching out tower locations, maybe that’s why the tower companies are hoping for more tower work. The hype of 600 mhz should be small because 600 mhz band is actually. At the high end, more closely to 700 mhz. So signal distance won’t be much different from b 12 to b 71.