Verizon has been the king of wireless, offering the biggest and fastest LTE network in the country for some time now, but things seem to be changing. The other three big providers, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint, have been playing a never ending game of cat and mouse in terms of coverage and network performance, but it is T-Mobile that's been putting forward the most visible effort to increase their network's coverage. Today marks the beginning of their deployment of new 600MHz LTE technology.
Back in April, T-Mobile spent $8 billion at auction for the rights to use this new low-band spectrum and the first site to go live today is in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Mobile networks operate on many different frequency bands and just like with Wi-Fi, lower frequencies mean larger coverage areas. With this rollout and many more to come, they hope to "materially close" the coverage gap with Verizon by the end of the year.
Major network upgrades like this one typically take years to be implemented but it appears that T-Mobile will have it done in just a few months. There have been some challenges along the way though as the 600MHz band was previously used by some TV stations. T-Mobile has been paying out of pocket to help accelerate the process of moving them to different frequencies.
There aren't currently any devices that have radios to support 600MHz, but both Samsung and LG will have compatible phones in stores by the end of the year. Moving forward, T-Mobile has also designed this deployment to be forward compatible with 5G standards. T-Mobile is currently on par with Verizon and AT&T for download speed, but still lagging behind in terms of coverage. With this and other future upgrades, they hope to close this gap for good.