A T-Mobile executive boasted Tuesday that the operator's 5G network in New York City recently clocked 1Gbit/s download speeds, at least in one recent test. And that connection didn't even make use of T-Mobile's lowband or millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum holdings.
A big milestone was achieved today @TMobile NYC. The team recorded a 1 Gigabit/s speed test on our newly launched 2.5Ghz 5G network in Manhattan @NevilleRay @MikeSievert #layercake #nationwide5G #wewontstop pic.twitter.com/XSir6YRSrp— Salim Kouidri (@salimkouidri) May 20, 2020
Previously, T-Mobile has boasted speeds of around 600Mbit/s on its 5G network in Philadelphia, which uses the operator's lowband 600MHz spectrum and the midband 2.5GHz spectrum T-Mobile acquired from Sprint.
The operator's new 5G high mark helps to highlight the potential of 5G in general and T-Mobile's network buildout specifically. For example, network-monitoring company OpenSignal reported Wednesday that average 5G speeds globally are well below the 1Gbit/s mark in places like South Korea, the US and Australia.
But T-Mobile's latest efforts, coupled with those of Verizon and others, also highlight the complexity involved in implementing the new technology.
For example, T-Mobile's Salim Kouidri confirmed that the operator's 1Gbit/s connection – obtained in one test and not necessarily a speed customers should routinely expect – essentially combined transmissions across several different spectrum bands:
- N41 (the 2.5GHz spectrum T-Mobile acquired from Sprint)
- B66 (the AWS spectrum T-Mobile is using to broadcast both 5G and 4G using EN-DC technology)
- And Band 46 (the unlicensed 5GHz band that T-Mobile is using to deploy LAA technology)
Thus, the operator's 1Gbit/s 5G connection didn't even make use of T-Mobile's lowband or highband, mmWave spectrum holdings. Moreover, T-Mobile officials have said the operator is initially deploying only 60MHz of the roughly 150MHz it now owns in the 2.5GHz spectrum band. The inclusion of transmissions in those additional bands would undoubtedly increase users' download speeds.
T-Mobile isn't the only operator clocking blazing-fast speeds on 5G. For example, network-testing company RootMetrics reported that it clocked Verizon's mmWave 5G network at a top speed of 1.1Gbit/s in Chicago last year. That's not surprising given that Verizon holds roughly 800MHz of mmWave spectrum in most major markets, which allows it to transmit enormous amounts of data.
T-Mobile, for its part, has long discussed the importance of the "layer cake" approach to 5G that makes use of lowband spectrum for widespread coverage, midband spectrum for coverage in cities, and highband spectrum for coverage in dense, urban areas. As 5G matures in the months and years to come, T-Mobile will eventually leverage all those spectrum bands in order to increase speeds and capabilities.
For example, T-Mobile promised that, within six years, it will provide average 5G speeds in excess of 100Mbit/s across 90% of the US population.
AT&T and Verizon too have said they will eventually launch 5G across all their spectrum holdings.
Indeed, Verizon today announced it tweaked its own mmWave 5G network to improve users' upload speeds. As PCMag reported, Verizon previously used its LTE network to handle its 5G customers' uploads, but is now using 100MHz of its mmWave spectrum to handle uploads. The operator said the action would improve its upload speeds by 30% – a key action as COVID-19 lockdown orders drive Americans toward upload-heavy services like videoconferencing.
But it appears news on the 5G front will continue to accelerate as COVID-19 lockdown orders loosen around the country. For example, T-Mobile's new CEO, Mike Sievert, teased an announcement that the operator has scheduled for Thursday. Company officials said the announcement will stem from promises T-Mobile made late last year as it sought regulatory approval for its merger with Sprint.
Importantly, T-Mobile is already highlighting its 5G plans in some advertisements now that its Sprint merger has been consummated.