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T-Mobile to Deploy 5G On 600 MHz Spectrum Starting in 2019

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May 2, 2017, 8:20 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   @zeman_e

T-Mobile today said it plans to use some of its recently acquired 600 MHz spectrum to support a future 5G network. The company successfully won an average of 31 MHz (ranging between 20 MHz and 50 MHz) of the 70 MHz low-band spectrum auctioned off by TV stations and the FCC earlier this year. The winnings give T-Mobile 100% coverage of the U.S. and Puerto Rico. T-Mobile already voiced its intent to use the 600 MHz spectrum later this year for LTE. It appears T-Mobile will use the 600 MHz spectrum for 4G and 5G. The move is curious, as the 3GPP and other standards bodies are exploring much higher-band spectrum for 5G, including the 28 GHz, 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 64-71 GHz bands. T-Mobile's 600 MHz spectrum will surely provide coast-to-coast coverage, but not necessarily the speeds expected of future 5G networks. T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray countered this notion. "There’s no such thing as '5G spectrum,' and in the next decade we’ll see everything moving to 5G," remarked Ray. "Nationwide Mobile 5G will require both high-band and broad low-band coverage, and having unused nationwide 600 MHz spectrum means T-Mobile is in an ideal position to deliver." Ray insists the company's 600 MHz spectrum can support low latency, longer battery life, and improved capacity that are part of the in-progress 5G standard. Further, T-Mobile said it will eventually use it mid-band spectrum holdings (1700 MHz) and high-band spectrum holdings (28/39 GHz) to enhance its base 600 MHz 5G service, particularly in urban areas where T-Mobile has typically enjoyed the best coverage. T-Mobile claims it has 200 MHz of 28/39 GHz spectrum covering nearly 100 million people in major metro areas around the country. The company plans to work with chip makers, infrastructure vendors, device manufacturers, and the 3GPP to ensure that 5G will work on 600 MHz spectrum. The company did not specify what wireless technologies will be involved. T-Mobile expects to roll out 5G in 2019, with complete nationwide coverage completed by 2020.

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