The FINANCIAL — T-Mobile on August 16 announced it has begun lighting up its new 600 MHz LTE network — leveraging the massive haul of super-premium low-band spectrum won in the government broadcast incentive auction concluded earlier this year.
The announcement comes only two months after the Un-carrier received its spectrum licenses from the FCC. T-Mobile’s first 600 MHz LTE network sites — the very first in the world — were just switched on in Cheyenne, Wyoming using Nokia equipment. Starting in rural America and other markets where the spectrum is clear of broadcasting today, T-Mobile plans to deploy the new super-spectrum at record-shattering pace — compressing what would normally be a two-year process from auction to consumer availability into a short six months.
T-Mobile today also shared additional details of its 600 MHz LTE network rollout. This year alone, additional 600 MHz sites are slated for locations including Wyoming, Northwest Oregon, West Texas, Southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, Western North Dakota, Maine, Coastal North Carolina, Central Pennsylvania, Central Virginia and Eastern Washington. Those deployments and other network upgrades will help the Un-carrier increase total LTE coverage from 315 million Americans today to 321 million by year’s end, according to T-Mobile.
“Earlier this month, wireless customers coast to coast proved T-Mobile already delivers America’s best unlimited network. We swept the competition in OpenSignal’s report on all counts—a global industry first. And that was before we started lighting up the world’s first 600 MHz LTE network,” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. “Buckle up, carriers. Because the Un-carrier’s 600 MHz network just got real.”
While the carriers struggle under the weight of unlimited on their crowded, congested networks, T-Mobile’s new low-band spectrum is wide-open road for Un-carrier customers once cleared. And, the result will be more wireless choice and competition for rural Americans and an even better experience for existing T-Mobile customers.
To meet this aggressive timeline for getting this super-spectrum into customers’ hands, T-Mobile has been coordinating closely with the infrastructure providers, chipset makers and device manufacturers to bring 600 MHz LTE to customers at breakneck speed. Nokia and Qualcomm have launched new technology, and both Samsung and LG plan to launch phones that tap into this new spectrum in the fourth quarter of this year.
T-Mobile is also working closely with the FCC and broadcasters like PBS to clear the spectrum in record time, investing where necessary to preserve programming consumers care about while paving the way for new wireless coverage and competition for consumers.
“This team broke every record in the books with the speed of our 700 MHz LTE deployment, and we’re doing it again. T-Mobile is effectively executing in six months what would normally be a two-year process,” said Neville Ray, Chief Technology Officer for T-Mobile. “We won’t stop … and we won’t slow down!”
“To work with T-Mobile in lighting up the world’s first 600 MHz LTE network is a momentous achievement,” said Rajeev Suri, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nokia. “We knew this spectrum would be key for covering wide areas, providing bandwidth in hard-to-reach places, augmenting capacity and improving data speeds, so we began testing and readying 600 MHz network infrastructure equipment and software long before the incentive auction was over.”
T-Mobile has doubled its LTE coverage since 2015, and its newly acquired premium low band spectrum will broaden its LTE footprint even further — and lay the foundation for the country’s first nationwide 5G network. The Un-carrier owns a whopping average of 31 MHz of 600 MHz spectrum licenses that can cover every single American across the nation with low band spectrum that reaches twice as far and is four times better in buildings than mid-band.