T-Mobile: 2.5 GHz 5G now covers 200M people

T-Mobile today announced it now covers 200 million people with Ultra Capacity 5G, the moniker for its 2.5 GHz coverage, which is six weeks ahead of schedule.

It’s also farther ahead of its rivals than what was envisioned even a couple weeks ago. That’s because AT&T and Verizon agreed to delay their comparable mid-band coverage by a month while they work out concerns raised by the aviation community about C-band spectrum, which was auctioned by the FCC earlier this year. T-Mobile also bought C-band spectrum, but it isn’t nearly as reliant upon it for 5G mid-band as its rivals.

Once a laggard in wireless coverage, T-Mobile is making its rivalry all about 5G, for which it claimed nationwide coverage with 600 MHz spectrum back in 2019.  The bulk of T-Mobile’s mid-band spectrum is a result of its merger with Sprint, which brought an average of more than 150 megahertz of 2.5 GHz spectrum/market to the union. The Ultra Capacity brand also includes millimeter wave (mmWave), which is just a fraction of what T-Mobile’s 2.5 GHz spectrum covers.

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In its press release, T-Mobile once again touted the results of a third-party report showing its 5G speed and availability are better than its rivals.

“We’re delivering game changing Ultra Capacity 5G to people across the country at an unprecedented pace, putting us in a network leadership position with a two-year head start on the competition. And that gap is only getting wider as we speed up,” said T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert in a statement. “Only T-Mobile is delivering a 5G network capable of truly transforming the smartphone experience – 5G’s first killer app – and that’s just the beginning. With Ultra Capacity 5G nationwide, we’re unleashing innovators across the country to build new 5G applications that will change the world.”

While Sievert’s statement hinted at the widening gap between its mid-band spectrum and its rivals, it didn’t pin it on the C-band delays due to aviation concerns, but the release mentions that Verizon and AT&T spent “record-breaking amounts” on C-band and still aren’t delivering services using it.

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“We’ve been working toward the 5G future for years with one thing in mind: 5G FOR ALL,” said T-Mobile President of Technology Neville Ray in a statement. “That means an amazing 5G experience for people across the country, whether they’re in a city like New York or one like Helena, Montana. Our Ultra Capacity 5G is delivering just that, and I’m incredibly proud of the T-Mobile team working to deploy this network ahead of schedule for our customers.”

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T-Mobile reiterated that it plans to cover a population of 300 million with Ultra Capacity 5G by the end of 2023. During the company’s third-quarter conference call, Sievert noted that the difference in geographic coverage between 200 million and 300 million is huge, or roughly five times the land area, giving T-Mobile a big competitive advantage in smaller markets and rural areas.

T-Mobile has said customers with 5G devices can expect speeds of 400 megabits per second on average from the Ultra Capacity 5G.