T-Mobile has gone live with its high-band millimeter wave 5G test in the US with Nokia and Intel, even as it boasts that it will beat rivals to mobile 5G using its low-band 600MHz spectrum.
T-Mobile US Inc. said Wednesday that it has switched on a 28GHz cell in Bellvue, Washington, and ran tests. "A data session was conducted on a 28GHz radio in a field test environment using the Nokia 5G commercial AirScale solution and the 5G Mobile Trial Platform (MTP) from Intel, enabling T-Mobile to deploy its first inter-vendor 5G network," the operator said in a statement. (See T-Mobile to Test 5G With Nokia, Ericsson .)
This comes just after CEO John Legere said that T-Mobile would "leapfrog" rivals in deploying mobile 5G using its 600MHz spectrum. As Light Reading has repeatedly reported, however, T-Mobile is taking a two-pronged approach to 5G, anticipating going live with the low-band 5G in 2020, and then layering in 28GHz mmWave sites after that. (See T-Mobile on 5G: Starting With 600MHz, Looking at mmWave Future and T-Mobile CEO: We'll 'Leapfrog' AT&T & Verizon With Mobile 5G.)
The logic behind this is that T-Mobile gets range and coverage with 600MHz first, so it can deploy 5G at a rapid clip. Then it can layer in high-speed 28GHz mmWave zones after that. (See Islands in the Stream: Don't Expect Full mmWave 5G Coverage in US, Says Nokia.)
In order to do that, T-Mobile -- like other US carriers -- will need access to more 28GHz spectrum to fully implement this plan. T-Mobile gained some 28GHz licenses from its acquisition of MetroPCS, but Verizon has gained much more potential 28GHz coverage from its buyout of XO and -- still to be approved -- acquisition of Straight Path. (See FCC Wants to Open More High-Band Spectrum for 5G.)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading