T-Mobile announced today that it has completed its merger with Sprint. In a statement, T-Mobile said that the will result in a “transformative 5G network” for consumers and businesses.
The merger will allow the two companies to share their range of assets, combining T-Mobile’s wide but low-speed low band and short distance but higher-speed high band with Sprint’s mid-range, mid-speed mid band spectrum. This combination of network options will allow T-Mobile to offer 5G service that can be faster and/or provide better coverage based on the network assets available at any location.
In their statement today, T-Mobile said that it will give customers access to “average 5G speeds up to 8 times faster than current LTE in just a few years” and “15 times faster over the next six years.” They also aim to offer 5G to 99% of the U.S. population, with 90% seeing higher than 100Mbps speeds, within a few years. Rural coverage is also a priority for them, with a goal to provide 90% of rural Americans with average 5G speeds of 50Mbps.
This week, President Trump signed two bills related to wireless and broadband into law: the Secure 5G and Beyond Act and the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act.
The Secure 5G and Beyond Act requires the president to develop a strategy to secure and protect 5G technology. The president has 180 days to consult with Federal Communications Commission, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense and other agencies and submit to Congress a plan for rolling out secure 5G.
The Broadband DATA act is aimed at improving the accuracy of maps which show where broadband is and isn’t available in the US. It will change how and what information the FCC collects about broadband access to ensure that the federal government has more accurate information about where broadband is available and who has access.
“The bills signed into law today by the president are critical to ensuring that all Americans can access broadband and that our networks are secure and trusted,” the House Energy and Commerce Committee said in a statement. “The need for connectivity is even more critical now that millions of Americans are teleworking and learning from home in response to the coronavirus pandemic.”
With students and non-essential workers staying home to study and work, access to affordable internet is incredibly important. To help their users stay connected without incurring pricey overage fees, Verizon is giving all of its customers an extra 15GB of data through the end of April. Users on an unlimited plan will be able to use 15 additional GB before seeing their speeds slow, and users with metered data plans will simply have an extra 15GB per line added to their allowance.
Per Verizon, “all wireless plans available since 2015 are eligible for this data boost,” including consumer and small business plans as well as prepaid plans. To further help anyone struggling, Verizon has waived activation, overage and late fees and enabled unlimited calling for customers who are on older plans that had capped monthly phone minutes.
For non-wireless Verizon customers, Verizon also announced that they will be adding a cheaper Fios home broadband option for those who qualify for the low-income Lifeline assistance program. Beginning April 3, eligible new customers will be able to get Verizon’s 200Mbps Fios service for $20 per month – half off the usual rate.
With the coronavirus keeping people home and more and more Americans transitioning to telecommuting and online schooling, the demand for fast and reliable internet access is soaring daily. T-Mobile is working to increase their network capacity by utilizing 600MHz spectrum from other companies and expanding their partnership with Sprint.
For the first part of their plan, T-Mobile is borrowing or renting 600MHz spectrum from several companies, including Dish Network, Comcast, and others. This additional spectrum will allow T-Mobile to keep up with demand and avoid traffic overload and slower data speeds. Additionally, to help customers in rural areas, T-Mobile has expanded its roaming deal with Sprint, allowing schools, families and rural Americans who are Sprint subscribers to access T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network for the next 60 days.
Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s president of technology, said, “In trying times like this, we understand how important it is for people to remain connected – to family and friends, to resources and information, to their jobs via teleworking or schools via virtual classrooms. And we take our responsibility to keep our customers connected incredibly seriously. We can’t thank these partners and the FCC enough for coming together to provide people across the country with the critical connectivity they’re relying on right now.”
T-Mobile has continued their rapid expansion of their 5G network with several launches around the country this week. Coverage is now available in Twin Falls, ID; Corvallis, OR; Jackson, TN; Bozeman, MT; and Evansville, IN. Coverage is available around the hubs of those cities, as well as some additional surrounding areas:
- Twin Falls: Buhl, Wendell, Jerome, and Milner
- Corvallis: campus of Oregon State University, Lewisburg, Dry Creek, Philomath, and Albany
- Jackson: Oakfield, Huntersville, and Pinson
- Bozeman: Montana State University, Springhill Park, Chestnut, Gallatin Gateway, and Manhattan
- Evansville: Bosse Field, the Mesker Park Zoo, and Botanic Garden
To check coverage at your location, see T-Mobile’s coverage map.
You’ll need a 5G phone to take advantage of the new network in these coverage areas. T-Mobile currently sells five 5G-capable phones: OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren, Galaxy Note 10+ 5G, Galaxy S20 5G, Galaxy S20+ 5G, and Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G.
OnePlus confirmed to CNET that the upcoming OnePlus 8 series of its phones will all be 5G-capabe. CEO and co-founder Pete Lau explained that “going forward, we’re all in on 5G”.
“I want to restate our commitment to 5G and our long term investment,” he said. “We’ve been investing in 5G for several years and we see this as the direction going forward and one we’re very much committed to.”
OnePlus’s first 5G phone, OnePlus 7 Pro, launched just last summer, with the McLaren edition of the OnePlus 7T Pro following after that. Their new generation of phones is expected to launch in April.
OnePlus is known for making quality phones at affordable prices, and while the expense of 5G development and components is higher than that of 4G, they are still dedicated to keeping prices down. Lau said it’s likely that the launch will include a more expensive “Pro” version of the phone and a regular OnePlus 8 with more modest specs and a lower price point.
AT&T’s super fast mmWave “5G+” network is now available to consumers. Until now, AT&T had reserved their mmWave network only for business subscribers, while consumers could only access their slower but more widespread 5G low band network.
AT&T users will need the newly launched Samsung Galaxy S20+ and Galaxy S20 Ultra to take advantage of the 5G+ network. The regular Galaxy S20 will work on AT&T’s slower 5G network, but not the faster 5G+ service.
Customers who buy the Galaxy S20+ and Galaxy S20 Ultra will be able to use the mmWave “5G+” branded networks in parts of 35 cities, and they can expect speeds that can be more than 20x faster than LTE. Where 5G+ isn’t available, they will be able to use the lower-band 5G network.
To see where AT&T has 5G and 5G+ service in your area, visit att.com/5Gforyou.
AT&T is finally making its faster, mmWave 5G network which it calls “5G Plus” available to customers this Friday the 6th of March, alongside the release of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus and S20 Ultra. The 5G launch will be the first time that customers will be able to access both the sub-6GHz and mmWave parts of AT&T’s network.
The mmWave unleash comes just a few months after AT&T opened up access to its sub-6GHz 850MHz network back in December 2019. AT&T’s mmWave network has technically been available for months, but access has been limited to select commercial partners and development teams until now.
Today, AT&T 5G has gone live in 22 more cities around the country, bringing the total to 80 cities nationwide to have AT&T 5G service. The service went live in more areas of New York, Ohio, and California, which already had AT&T 5G in some spots, as well as a variety of other places from Georgia to Montana:
- Albany, Ga.
- Albany, N.Y.
- Athens, Ga.
- Beaverhead County, Mont.
- Binghamton, N.Y.
- Cincinnati, Ohio
- Columbus, Ohio
- Denver, Colo.
- Hamilton, Ohio
- Lancaster, Pa.
- Lincoln County, Mont.
- Madera County, Calif.
- Madison County, Va.
- Mono County, Calif.
- Provo, Utah
- Raleigh County, W. Va
- Ross County, Ohio
- Santa Rosa, Calif.
- Springfield, Ohio
- State College, Pa.
- Sussex County, N.J.
- Worcester, Mass.
The 5G service available in these 22 cities and most of the other previously launched areas is low-band 5G, which provides good coverage but not a dramatic speed advantage over LTE. AT&T’s super-fast millimeter wave 5G service is only available in small parts of 35 cities.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to approve a payment package of $9.7 billion to satellite companies using the 3.7GHz to 3.98GHz band, to clear 280MHz of spectrum that will be auctioned to 5G carriers. This “C-band” spectrum is important for 5G development, and the auction could begin in December of this year and continue into early 2021 with multiple rounds of bidding covering different blocks of spectrum and geographic areas.
The mid band spectrum is important for carriers, as it offers a compromise between speeds and distance. Currently, US carriers have had to choose between high band frequencies that offer great speeds but poor coverage, or low band frequencies that offer less of a speed advantage but can provide much better coverage.
The FCC vote does not guarantee that the satellite companies will accept the payments and relinquish the frequency, but it is a step in the right direction for the future of 5G.