U.S. Cellular, T-Mobile CTOs detail ongoing tests of 5G technology

T-Mobile’s Karri Kuoppamaki (third from left) and U.S. Cellular’s Michael Irizarry (fourth from left) sit with CTOs from other wireless carriers during a CTIA Super Mobility event.

LAS VEGAS – Top executives from U.S. Cellular and T-Mobile said they too are currently testing 5G technologies with the goal of understanding how the offering might be deployed into their respective networks and improve the services they’re offering. The news is noteworthy because the two operators have been relatively quiet on the topic of 5G, in comparison with Sprint, AT&T and Verizon that have discussed their ongoing 5G tests and demonstrations.

“We’re kicking off our first trial next week,” Michael Irizarry, EVP and CTO of U.S. Cellular, said during an event here at the CTIA Super Mobility show. He said the operator’s first 5G test next week will be conducted in the 28 GHz band with an “incumbent vendor” that he did not name. He didn’t provide any further details on the planned test.

Irizarry said U.S. Cellular also plans to conduct another 5G test later in the 15 GHz band, and then also possibly a third test. He said the tests are geared toward helping U.S. Cellular understand the propagation characteristics of wireless operations in higher bands.

“What services work best on which bands?” he asked. “The range is much more limited than what we’re accustomed to.”

Karri Kuoppamaki, VP of network technology development and strategy at T-Mobile, said he also is overseeing 5G tests, though he didn’t provide much detail.

“We started working already on 5G last year,” he said, explaining that the operator this year is working on moving from lab tests and into field tests.

“It works,” he said of 5G. Kuoppamaki said the tests “give us faith that we can execute.”

U.S. Cellular and T-Mobile join the rest of the nation’s carriers in testing 5G. AT&T earlier this year said its 5G tests in 15 GHz produced download speeds of 14 Gbps to a single user and 5 Gbps to two users. The operator plans to test a 28 GHz system later this year.

For its part, Verizon said its early 5G tests hint at blazing fast network speeds topping 10 Gbps and the ability to transmit 4K video while moving. The operator hopes to deploy commercial fixed 5G services by next year.

And Sprint has demonstrated 5G services at 73 GHz.

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