600 MHz for 5G coverage offsets limited reach of mmWave networks
Following the news that the Federal Communications Commission has officially laid out the conditions that the New T-Mobile US must meet as part of its approval of the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile US, T-Mobile US CEO John Legere announced that the carrier’s nationwide 5G network, built on the company’s 600 MHz band of spectrum, will launch on December 6th.
The merger between Sprint and T-Mobile was approved in mid-October after a 3-2 party-line vote, with the three commissioners who voted to support the merger cited its impact on 5G deployment as their major consideration. This week, the FCC released the final order documents.
Specifically, the FCC revealed T-Mobile’s promise to deploy 5G service to cover 97% of the American people within the next three years, and to cover 99% of all Americans within the next six years — including 85% of rural Americans within three years and 90% of rural Americans within six years.
In addition, New T-Mobile committed to providing 99% of Americans with access to speeds of at least 50 Mbps and 90% of the U.S. population with speeds of at least 100 Mbps. That includes 90% of Americans living in rural areas having at least 50 Mbps speeds and two-thirds of rural Americans having access to speeds of at least 100 Mbps.
Like Verizon, T-Mobile has already begun 5G network roll outs with faster mmWave technology in select cities. But now, the carrier is looking to deploy its 600 MHz to help make up for the shortcomings of mmWave networks, like limited range and poor obstacle penetration.
A $15 monthly prepaid plan, called T-Mobile Connect, will target customers with “modest incomes,” but according to the carrier, will also be made available without any restrictions to everyone. However, those able to pay $25 a month will receive up to 5GB.
Additionally, T-Mobile stated that it will provide an additional 500MB of data per month, every year under T-Mobile Connect for the next five years, without raising prices, and customers will also receive 5G services at no extra cost.
Legere also announced a new “Connecting Heroes Initiative,” which promises free unlimited talk, text, and 5G internet for eligible first responders.
The new 5G network, according to Legere, will eventually cover 200 million customers and achieve speeds of up to 450 Mbps by 2024, which is 10 times faster than its current LTE speeds. While the speeds are impressive, T-Mobile will have just two 5G phones available at the time of the launch: the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G and the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G.