T-Mobile has announced that it plans to offer access to its 5G network starting in 2019, with a complete roll out by 2020. While details are scarce at the moment the company did say it will dedicate a part of the new 600 MHz spectrum it acquired for $8 billion at a federal auction last month, and that they’re taking a different route than its main rivals by focusing on nationwide mobile 5G, not fixed 5G deployments.
The latter is in reference to Verizon and AT&T’s trials for fixed wireless Internet service using 5G to serve homes and businesses, which would compete against high-speed Internet offerings by cable companies. These services are being developed based on millimeter wave technology, which can carry a lot of information, but doesn’t travel as far and can be more easily blocked by physical obstacles like trees.
We should note that it’s not like competing carriers aren’t planning true mobile 5G networks of their own, but in true Uncarrier fashion, T-Mobile executives are focusing on downplaying their fixed 5G efforts and playing up their company’s recent spectrum acquisition. "We're going to build this big fat freeway across the US for 5G, and we don't think anyone else can do it at this time," T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said.
There's been no shortage of hype about 5G and at least AT&T is already taking advantage of the situation by announcing its "5G Evolution" network is coming to 2 dozen metro areas by the end of the year. The only problem is that the network isn’t actually 5G — in fact the actual 5G spec isn’t even finalized yet.
If anything T-Mobile’s announcement gives us an expected time frame for when we can see real 5G deployments in the wild and we can probably expect its rivals to be ready around the same time.
Image credit: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren