In May 2017, following an $8 billion acquisition of low-band 600-MHz spectrum during an FCC auction, T-Mobile announced plans to be the first carrier to offer nationwide 5G, at once expanding its existing 4G LTE coverage and using its 600 MHz spectrum to deliver T-Mobile 5G coverage across the United States. Whereas other carriers — namely Verizon and AT&T — are focused on their 5G fixed-wireless trials, T-Mobile is placing its bets on the use of multiple spectrum bands to deliver coast-to-coast mobile coverage, beginning in 2019 and culminating in 2020.
Testing a T-Mobile 5G Rollout
T-Mobile 5G makes the case that its competitors are making a mistake by approaching 5G as a series of hotspots in select cities. The theory is that “5G coverage will disappear once customers step outside these limited 5G zones, meaning their 5G experiences disappear too.” T-Mobile 5G wants to prove that its network is the one that is built for unlimited nationwide data traffic.
The company is already testing LTE technology in the 600-MHz spectrum in Wyoming and Maine. Using Nokia hardware, T-Mobile switched on its first 600-MHz LTE network sites in Cheyenne, and followed those up with sites in Scarborough. The company plans to deploy similar technology in Oregon, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and other rural locations.
Aside from its nationwide 5G deployment goal, T-Mobile also recently completed trials of narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT).
Partnering with Ericsson and Qualcomm, T-Mobile performed live network tests of NB-IoT in July 2017. T-Mobile used multiple sites of its live commercial LTE network in Las Vegas and used just 200 KHz of T-Mobile’s Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum. In these field tests the company used Qualcomm global multimode LTE IoT modems.
In addition to these NB-IoT tests in Las Vegas, T-Mobile has tested flood and storm drainage sensors; smart city LED lighting; and sensors to monitor temperature, humidity, and environmental gases in the city.