T-Mobile has switched on the largest 5G network yet across the US, covering 200 million Americans at launch, but won't offer compatible 5G devices until the end of this week.
T-Mobile had originally announced the network would go live December 6, but it pushed up the launch date.
The operator now says that its 600MHz lowband 5G network is live today, covering 1 million square miles, 5,000 towns and cities, and 200 million potential customers in the US. T-Mobile says, however, that devices that can use the new network -- the $900 OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren and the $1,300 Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G -- will be in T-Mobile stores on the original network launch date, Friday December 6.
The operator stresses that its 600MHz 5G network works indoors, unlike highband millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G from AT&T and Verizon, which cannot penetrate walls, many windows and foliage.
Download speeds for the T-Mobile network will start at around 100 Mbit/s. This is far slower than the gigabit-plus speeds offered by mmWave 5G, but the T-Mobile service is offered over a far wider area.
T-Mobile isn't charging more for its 5G plans than its 4G offerings. Verizon has said it will eventually charge a $10 premium on its 5G mmWave service, although it hasn't started charging this fee on all its plans yet.
AT&T isn't yet making its mmWave plans available for consumers, only businesses and developers, although it plans to launch its initial 850MHz lowband 5G network this month.
Why this matters T-Mobile is launching its 5G network just ahead of the December 9 beginning of the trial in a lawsuit of 13 state attorneys general against the carrier's $26.5 billion planned merger with Sprint.
T-Mobile has constantly sold a nationwide 5G footprint as one of its motivations for the merger. The operator stresses that its first 5G devices will also work on the Sprint 2.5GHz midband network frequency.
- Lowband 5G Offers the Massive Coverage the US Needs
- Low-Band Will Take 5G Indoors, Just Not Quite Yet
- 5G Isn't Going Indoors Anytime Soon
- Verizon, Qualcomm & Ericsson Demo Dynamic Spectrum Sharing
- Verizon's Vestberg Sticks With mmWave for 5G
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading