Tracking towards its goal of deploying 2.5 GHz spectrum in thousands of towns and cities by year’s end, T-Mobile on Tuesday turned on the mid-band frequencies for 5G in 121 new locations.
That brings the T-Mobile’s 2.5 GHz tally to 210 cities and towns. It’s another mark of T-Mobile’s aggressive rollout, which began in April soon after it acquired the key mid-band spectrum through its Sprint merger.
The latest expansion is largely in states that saw 2.5 GHz deployed in some locations earlier this month, but also includes newcomers, adding at least one mid-band 5G city or town in the states of Arkansas, Delaware, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
You can view a full list of the new locations here.
T-Mobile’s 2.5 GHz spectrum is a key part of the operator's strategy, and meant to be the next step in its 5G “layer cake” – atop the carrier’s rollout of low-band 600 MHz for nationwide 5G.
While low-band 5G has shown results more similar to 4G LTE, T-Mobile says average speeds where 2.5 GHz is deployed are around 300 Mbps, with peak speeds near 1 Gbps
Along with new locations, it’s also adding more towers and more spectrum in cities that already have 2.5 GHz activated. That includes New York City, where the T-Mobile has increased the number of mid-band sites by 10-times since May (it did not say how many sites were previously deployed). Still, those new sites have added 25-times the amount of mid-band coverage, as well as 10-times the capacity, according to T-Mobile.
Over the summer New York was the first city where T-Mobile turned on all three of its 5G layers, including millimeter wave.
Low-band provides broader coverage, but mid-band frequencies can deliver more capacity and speed, while still reaching further and penetrating objects better than high-band millimeter wave spectrum.
Lately AT&T and Verizon have seemed more acutely aware of T-Mobile’s growing low- and mid-band spectrum arsenal, with both recently filing concerns with the FCC over T-Mobile’s accumulation and regulatory limits. T-Mobile for its part, has said its rivals are concerned about meaningful competition the operator is bringing and looking to slow T-Mobile down.
T-Mobile often touts its dedicated 5G spectrum, including today, putting down AT&T and Verizon plans to use dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) technology that shares spectrum resources between both 4G LTE and 5G New Radio (NR), so that they can have a broader 5G footprint more quickly.
Executives at Verizon also continued to defend its mmWave-focused approach to 5G last week, with Chief Product Development Officer Nicola Palmer saying the high-band spectrum for Verizon’s Ultra Wideband 5G is a differentiator.
That said, Verizon’s waiting to get its hands on more mid-band spectrum – likely at the upcoming C-band spectrum auction, slated for December 8. Participation at the auction for mid-band spectrum licenses is expected to be highly competitive and some analysts recently raised their proceed forecasts, estimating up to $35.2 billion on the high end.