T-Mobile turns on 5G ‘layer cake’ in NYC with 2.5 GHz integration

T-Mobile today turned on its newly integrated 2.5 GHz spectrum in New York City, making it the first city to offer the operator’s full “layer cake” for 5G with a mix of low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum.

Since closing its Sprint merger on April 1, T-Mobile has been moving rapidly on network integration work and just two week ago lit up 2.5 GHz for 5G in Philadelphia.

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Unlike Philadelphia, Sprint had already launched 5G using 2.5 GHz in NYC last summer, meaning the latest activation required a different type of transition, T-Mobile’s Karri Kuoppamaki previously told FierceWireless

In addition to the 2.5 GHz, making up T-Mobile’s 5G layer cake in NYC is low-band 600 MHz and millimeter wave 28 GHz spectrum. AT&T, meanwhile, has its low-band and mmWave “5G+” service live in New York and competitor Verizon launched mmWave 5G using 28 GHz in the city in September 2019.  

T-Mobile President of Technology Neville Ray announced the New York City 2.5 GH activation on Twitter:

The first users who can tap into all three layers are those with a Samsung Galaxy S20+ or Ultra. The devices became available in March and are the first two 5G handsets in the U.S. with support for both sub-6 GHz and millimeter wave bands.

In just over a month since the long-awaited close of its merger, T-Mobile is following through on plans to immediately begin deploying more mid-band spectrum, even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. T-Mobile had additional time to prepare for integration though, while its Sprint merger deal dragged out for about two years.

RELATED: T-Mobile’s network build ‘on track’ despite COVID-19

T-Mobile, in arguing for its Sprint deal, repeatedly touted capabilities the combined company could deliver with a “transformational nationwide 5G network.”

The mix of spectrum bands promise to deliver a combination of enhanced speed, capacity, and coverage. The carrier has said average 5G speeds on T-Mobile’s new network will be up to eight times faster than current LTE in a few years and 15 times faster within six years.

Samsung devices that can tap T-Mobile’s integrated network in NYC also support both non-standalone and standalone (SA) 5G mode capabilities. While T-Mobile is still operating in non-standalone (NSA) 5G, it’s working to launch SA 5G later this year and earlier this week announced a handful of SA 5G milestones achieved using a multi-vendor production core on its commercial 5G network.