T-Mobile is claiming another 5G U.S. first in a test that leveraged 5G standalone (SA) millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum and technology from Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies.
The “un-carrier” aggregated eight channels of mmWave spectrum to reach download speeds over 4.3 Gbps without using low-band or mid-band spectrum to anchor the connection. T-Mobile also said it aggregated four channels of mmWave spectrum on the uplink, reaching speeds above 420 Mbps.
T-Mobile doesn’t usually rave about its mmWave holdings because the signals don’t travel far or very well through obstacles and, as the “un-carrier” noted in a press release, that makes it less ideal for mobile phone users who aren’t sitting still. Plus, rival Verizon is the one that holds the most mmWave spectrum and routinely uses it to goose speeds and capacity at NFL stadiums and other crowded places.
T-Mobile uses low-band spectrum for coverage and mid-band spectrum for capacity and faster speeds, but it’s also looking at using 5G mmWave for crowded areas like stadiums and potentially, fixed wireless service.
“We’ve been industry leaders – rolling out the first, largest and fastest 5G standalone network across the country – and now we’re continuing to push the boundaries of wireless technology,” said T-Mobile President of Technology Ulf Ewaldsson in a statement. “We’ve always said we’ll use millimeter wave where it makes sense, and this test allows us to see how the spectrum can be put to use in different situations like crowded venues or to power things like fixed-wireless access when combined with 5G standalone.”
Verizon doesn’t yet have a commercial, nationwide 5G standalone network – and its President of Technology Joe Russo has said they’re not in a big hurry to get there.
However, it’s relied heavily on mmWave in NFL stadiums and it’s also starting to use it in more areas, like beaches and open air venues. Verizon can also use mmWave for fixed wireless access (FWA), something its partners like Pivotal Commware have identified as perfect for their line of products.
During a recent Wells Fargo investor conference, Russo talked about using mmWave to serve all those “Swifties” at Taylor Swift concerts. The kind of capacity required for those kinds of events wasn’t available in the 4G world. “There's no way we can deliver that kind of experience for our customers without millimeter wave,” he said.