A 5G Build Update! And a Look Toward the Future of 5G

By Neville Ray, President of TechnologyJuly 27, 2021

Four years ago, when we announced plans to launch 5G using low-band 600 MHz spectrum, there were more than a few people who thought we were crazy. Back then Verizon and AT&T had created the belief that 5G only required mmWave spectrum. Fast forward to just last month when we announced that Extended Range 5G, built on 600 MHz, covered 300 million people! 5G in low- and mid-band frequencies is now the global standard, and whilst mmWave 5G is an important source of spectrum and 5G capability, it is mainly looked to for venue-specific use cases. In wireless we all know that coverage is key. Provide massive 5G coverage, add speed and capacity nationwide, and THAT is what unlocks the power of 5G for all. For rural America, to tackle the digital divide, for the innovators and entrepreneurs who will invent the future – all of them require both coverage and speed.

Today, I’m incredibly pleased to announce that T-Mobile Extended Range 5G now covers 305 million people across 1.7 million square miles – that’s nearly double AT&T, more than four times the size of Verizon’s 5G coverage and bigger than both of them combined! In fact, this is the largest 5G FDD network in the world!

And … our Ultra Capacity 5G now covers 165 million people with average download speeds of 350 Mbps - that’s up from the 150 million people covered that we announced just 5 weeks ago.  We are moving at pace and with confidence towards our 200 million people covered and NATIONWIDE Ultra Capacity for the end of this year.

Have a look…

That combination of coverage and speed we’re building at a furious pace is why we’re already seeing the benefits of 5G come to life: with partners like Halo who can remotely pilot vehicles over 5G, with T-Mobile Home Internet and WFX, and in the increased adoption, engagement and data usage we’re seeing on the Magenta MAX plan.

The benefits of T-Mobile’s approach to 5G are also clear when it’s put to the test against the competition. Three separate independent testing companies – Ookla, Opensignal, and umlaut -- using both drive test and crowd-sourced data, found T-Mobile 5G is the fastest and most available 5G network. Not once, but a total of seven times just this year, including a report issued by umlaut this morning – and it’s only July!

Last week Verizon and AT&T announced their Q2 earnings and of course 5G was a big topic of discussion, especially after they spent tens of billions on C-band spectrum in Q1. Rather than talking about any 5G progress now, though, they are focused on the baby steps they’ll be able to take with C-band starting next year and pointing to the future.  I certainly do love our network position right now!

But, let’s look into the future with them. T-Mobile is well down the 5G path we planned years ago, with a massive (seriously massive) lead. A lead we will sustain for many years to come for multiple reasons. Not only will the others be getting started with their mid-band 5G networks AFTER T-Mobile already covers 200 million people – as if that weren’t enough – but the depth of mid-band 5G spectrum T-Mobile will deploy cannot be matched.

The average amount of mid-band 2.5 GHz spectrum we have deployed for 5G is 60-80 MHz right now, but our plan is to expand that to 100 MHz by the end of this year, when we will cover 200 million people. 200 million people covered with 100 MHz gets you twenty billion MHz pops just for the end of this year.  Absolutely fabulous!

If you run that math for Verizon and give them the benefit of the doubt that they’ll cover 100 million people next year (which they said would come later in Q1 or Q2 22) and use 60 MHz of C-band, they get to 6 billion MHz pops. That same math for AT&T with their 40MHz of C-band is 4 billion MHz pops. Let’s just run that math again – T-Mobile 20 billion, Verizon 6 billion and AT&T 4 billion.

Now, if we look forward to the end of 2023 when the remaining C-band spectrum is made available - the math gets no better for Verizon and AT&T. T-Mobile is targeting 300 million people covered with 200MHz of mid-band for 60 billion MHz pops. Verizon says they’ll cover 200 million people with 160MHz, bringing them to 32 billion MHz pops. And if AT&T covers 200 million people with 80MHz of C-band, they’ll be at 16 billion MHz pops. So while they like to point to the future, we have the lead, and we will maintain it for years to come!

The 5G era has begun.  Consumers and businesses alike will see their lives changed in ways that we can’t even truly imagine – because of 5G and networks built like ours.  Today we are building the foundation for innovation and change, and we are doing it right.  For everyone.

Only T-Mobile can deliver something that’s leading on a durable basis over the next several years.

History will tell if I’m right, like it has since we announced our plans to launch 5G in low-band in 2017. My money’s on T-Mobile.