After spending $8 billion on spectrum licenses in the FCC’s recent 600 MHz spectrum auctions, T-Mobile US finally revealed a few details about its plans for building a 5G network. Company CTO Neville Ray said today in a blog post that T-Mobile will begin building a 5G network in 2019 and have a nationwide network in 2020.
Company CEO John Legere said in a video post that about half of the company’s 600 MHz spectrum will be used for LTE and the other half will be used for the nationwide 5G network. However, he also said that T-Mobile will use other spectrum bands like 28 GHz and 39 GHz and mid-band spectrum for 5G as well. Ray noted that the company has about 200 MHz of spectrum in the 28/39 GHz bands covering nearly 100 million PoPs and some mid-band spectrum. “5G will ultimately use all spectrum bands,” Legere said.
Regarding the timing of T-Mobile’s 5G deployment, Ray noted that T-Mobile’s 2019 launch will coincide with when 3GPP-certified chipsets and other 5G equipment is likely to become available. “As 5G standards are defined, chipsets are delivered, and equipment comes to market, we expect to be 3GPP certified and be able to deploy 5G on clean spectrum,” Ray said.
Nokia will be one of T-Mobile’s 5G equipment vendors.
No Fixed 5G
What T-Mobile won’t be doing is building a 5G network for fixed wireless service in millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum like the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands to deliver video and broadband connectivity. Legere mocked both AT&T and Verizon for their plans to launch a fixed 5G service in mmWave spectrum, saying they want to compete with big cable but they will both be using spectrum that can’t deliver a 5G signal very far. “Basically it’s a series of hot spots,” Legere said.
Ray also made fun of AT&T’s announcement last week to launch “5G Evolution” in more than 20 markets by year-end, by saying that 5G Evolution is actually based upon technology T-Mobile launched in 2016.
AT&T was vague about exactly what 5G Evolution means, but the company said it will offer twice the speeds of its existing LTE network and will use technologies such as small cells, carrier aggregation, 4×4 multiple input multiple output (MIMO), and 256 QAM.