Give T-Mobile a reason to crow about its 5G even more and it’s going to run to the nearest mountaintop with it. The “un-carrier” just announced that it came out on top across all the categories measured in a new Ookla study, including 5G speed, performance and availability.
Oh, and T-Mobile is moving full speed ahead on turning on the 5G carrier aggregation (CA) that it’s been talking about – both with 2.5 GHz and 2.5 GHz combined with 600 MHz.
In the Ookla analysis that measured nationwide network performance, T-Mobile took the top spot in all six categories: fastest provider, latency, consistency, 5G performance, 5G availability and 5G consistency. That may come as no big surprise since T-Mobile has enjoyed a hefty lead on the mid-band piece of 5G, with its rivals AT&T and Verizon left to navigate some very unfriendly skies with their C-band launches.
In fact, T-Mobile said its Ultra Capacity 5G, which includes the 2.5 GHz spectrum acquired from Sprint, drove a nearly 40% increase in median 5G download speeds from the third quarter, now clocking in at 187 Mbps nationwide. According to T-Mobile, that’s faster than most home Wi-Fi, as well as two times faster than Verizon 5G and over 2.5 times faster than AT&T 5G.
The operator rubbed it in a little further by noting that T-Mobile customers were able to connect to 5G significantly more often than both Verizon and AT&T customers.
T-Mobile also announced today that it’s launching new capabilities with 5G carrier aggregation (NR CA), combining two channels of 2.5 GHz mid-band spectrum for greater speed and capacity. Translation: T-Mobile said it basically took two highways and merged them into one superhighway, for faster traffic with less congestion and more roadway/capacity.
T-Mobile points out that 5G standards set the maximum bandwidth for a sub-6 GHz 5G channel at 100 MHz of spectrum, which is a lot of capacity, but it’s only getting better with CA. With 5G CA, the operator is able to provide customers with more than 100 MHz of 2.5 GHz Ultra Capacity 5G spectrum, starting with 120 MHz in many places, so customers in those areas will see a significant boost in speed and performance.
Early tests show 2.5 GHz 5G CA can improve speeds by about 20% and that devices reach speeds greater than 100 Mbps twice as often as those without 5G carrier aggregation, according to T-Mobile. In addition, T-Mobile noted that it’s expanded NR CA with 2.5 GHz and 600 MHz to cities across the country.
“These capabilities are live across much of T-Mobile’s network today for customers with the Samsung Galaxy S21 and another popular flagship device, becoming more broadly available – with additional devices – in the coming months,” T-Mobile stated.
The company said it recently reached record-breaking 5G upload speeds with 5G Dual Connectivity. In a test with Ericsson and Qualcomm, T-Mobile exceeded 1 Gbps on upload – 1005 Mbps, to be precise – by combining 2.5 GHz spectrum with millimeter wave.
“Today’s wins confirm what over a dozen other studies have found in the last year: T-Mobile 5G is #1 in performance and/or coverage,” said T-Mobile President of Technology Neville Ray in a statement. “Our competitors bet on the wrong spectrum for 5G. Now, they’re years behind and scrambling to catch up. We’ll keep blazing ahead, reaching more and more people with Ultra Capacity 5G and spearheading new technologies. This is what you get when you combine the best damn 5G network with the hardest working team in the industry.”
Signals Research Group (SRG) recently published a study that examined how big a deal it is to combine 2.5 GHz with the 600 MHz spectrum. SRG founder Mike Thelander told Fierce that combining 2.5 GHz for a TDD/TDD aggregation is admirable, but the real coverage gain comes from the 2.5 GHz and 600 MHz combo, which is FDD and TDD.
“The beauty of 5G NR has very little to do with TDD-TDD CA, and everything to do with FDD-TDD CA,” SRG said. “Net-net: there is a triple whammy of reasons why FDD-TDD (low-band/mid-band) delivers much better coverage than TDD mid-band only.”