T-Mobile revs up 5G in 6 cities using mmWave spectrum

T-Mobile announced today that early adopters will get a chance to use its 5G network when it starts offering the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G in six markets on Friday.

T-Mobile didn’t say in its press release which millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum it will be using, but a spokesman said it’s using 39 GHz in Las Vegas and 28 GHz in the other markets. And, it published maps showing coverage in the six cities: Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York. In areas where there’s no 5G signal, the device will use T-Mobile’s LTE network.

It’s somewhat ironic that T-Mobile is using mmWave spectrum for this launch as it’s been more outspoken about the negative propagation characteristics of high-band spectrum than rivals Verizon and AT&T, but it also threw some “side-eye” at the other carriers for not publishing 5G coverage maps.

To support the new smartphone, T-Mobile said it’s “pioneering a technology first" with Multi-band Dual Connectivity across the its entire 5G network, aggregating 5G in the millimeter wave band and LTE.

That means customers can supplement their LTE experience with 5G using mmWave spectrum for even better speeds, but it's also not making any promises about indoor usage. Customers using the new device can expect faster download speeds than LTE in the outdoor areas where 5G is available, T-Mobile said.

The Galaxy S10 5G will be able to take advantage of the upgrades it has made to its network, including 4X4 MIMO, LAA and carrier aggregation; plus, it taps into Extended Range LTE for more coverage and capacity.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G will be available in select stores in the aforementioned markets. Customers can pay full price—$1,299.99—or get qualified for a monthly installment plan that requires a down payment of $549.99.

Verizon had limited exclusivity on the device for one month. T-Mobile said it’s launching the device so much later than everyone else because it’s been conducting “additional testing to ensure the device meets our high standards for customer readiness.”

As is its way, T-Mobile also used the occasion to reinforce its multi-band 5G spectrum strategy and made a plug for its proposed merger with Sprint. With the merger, T-Mobile out of the gate will have low-band (its own 600 MHz), mid-band (Sprint’s 2.5 GHz) and high-band mmWave spectrum, all of which are generally thought to be required for 5G.

T-Mobile also said it’s not charging extra for 5G, and with the New T-Mobile, it’s made a commitment of zero price hikes on existing plans for at least three years.

The status of the merger seems to take a new turn every day. Reports surfaced last week that Dish Networks was in talks to pay at least $6 billion for assets that T-Mobile and Sprint are said to be unloading to get regulatory approval for their $26.5 billion merger.  

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Indeed, four more states joined the attorneys general from at least 10 others in a lawsuit to block the deal. A trial date has been set for Oct. 7