By using 600MHz spectrum, T-Mobile says that it can cover hundreds of square miles with a single tower instead of just a few square miles at best (which is currently possible with millimeter wave technology). T-Mobile achieved this feat with its hardware partner Nokia in Spokane, Washington, and is part of the company's efforts to "provide broad 5G coverage for everyone nearly everywhere."
“The Un-carrier is focused on delivering 5G for everyone everywhere, while the other guys focus on 5G for the few – reaching just a few people in small areas of a handful of cities,” said T-Mobile CEO John Legere. “We’re building truly mobile 5G so everyone can benefit from the 5G revolution. And with Sprint, we’ll be able to supercharge 5G with incredible capacity and speed!”
T-Mobile's focus on 600MHz spectrum will pay dividends for those living in rural areas. Rural America is typically undeserved with respect to broadband internet and wireless coverage, and it is expected that the transition to 5G will bring new opportunities for these communities. Of course, T-Mobile will still also offer millimeter wave technology in densely-populated city centers.
If all goes according to plan, T-Mobile will be in a position to offer nationwide 5G coverage in 2020. The company is banking on approval of its acquisition of Sprint to push forward its 5G efforts and better compete with first- and second-place wireless carriers Verizon and AT&T.
AT&T announced late last month that its first 5G service will become operational this year, and customers will be able to hop on with the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot (which uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem). This first cities to receive AT&T's 5G wireless service this year will be Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, Raleigh, Waco, Houston, Jacksonville, Louisville, New Orleans, and San Antonio.