T-Mobile and Qualcomm take nationwide 5G a step closer to reality

T-Mobile and Qualcomm take nationwide 5G a step closer to reality
Qualcomm announced today that along with T-Mobile, the two companies have successfully completed the first 5G data call using a commercial 5G modem over a low-frequency spectrum. The spectrum employed for this test was the 600MHz airwaves that the carrier won during an FCC auction that was held in 2017. T-Mobile paid nearly $8 billion for the spectrum. The modem chip employed for the test was Qualcomm's second-generation 5G modem chip, the Snapdragon X55. Besides the use of T-Mobile's airwaves and Qualcomm's Snapdragon X55 5G modem, the data call also used 5G radios from Ericsson.

The test takes T-Mobile a step closer to creating a nationwide 5G network. Verizon plans on using only mmWave bands for its mobile 5G network; these are ultra high-frequency bands in the 28GHz region of the radio spectrum. Such high-frequency airwaves do not travel as far as low-frequency airwaves nor do they penetrate buildings as well; this means that it could take longer for Verizon to complete a coast-to-coast 5G network compared to T-Mobile. The latter also plans on using some mmWave frequencies and Sprint's mid-range 2.5GHz spectrum (assuming that the merger closes) to build out its nationwide 5G network. AT&T will also use a combination of mmWave and sub-6GHz spectrum for its next-generation network. Qualcomm's Snapdragon X55 5G modem chip supports both mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G systems unlike the currently employed Snapdragon X50 5G modem chip, which works only with mmWave networks


T-Mobile started offering 5G services last month in Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York. Under the terms, it agreed to in order to obtain FCC approval for the merger with Sprint, within three years following the closing of the transaction the carrier must have 97% of the country covered with low-band 5G (85% of the rural areas). It also must have mid-band 5G coverage in 75% of the country. In addition, after three years drive tests need to confirm that 75% of the country can access download speeds equal to or greater than 50Mbps and that 63% can access download speeds of 100Mbps or higher.

T-Mobile says the U.S. needs the merger with Sprint to be approved to take the lead in the global 5G economy



When T-Mobile and Sprint first announced their $26.5 billion merger last year, the carriers said that the deal was necessary to help America lead the way in 5G. T-Mobile CEO John Legere wrote a lengthy piece on the company's blog last month explaining that once the U.S. has nationwide 5G, it will lead to the creation of new industries and businesses that we can't even conceive of right now; this will make America the global leader in the 5G economy. Legere claims that a combined T-Mobile-Sprint will have the spectrum needed to create a coast-to-coast 5G network first before Verizon and AT&T.

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6 Comments

1. Plutonium239

Posts: 1239; Member since: Mar 17, 2015

The requirements that they have to meet after only 3 years of work seems a little stiff to me.

2. sgodsell

Posts: 7533; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

The higher frequency spectrums also give you much higher data throughput, especially compared to the lower frequencies. Therefore in the long run you are going to see smartphones that will use those higher frequencies get the much faster speeds and support from carriers, hardware, first.

3. ECPirate37

Posts: 347; Member since: Jul 14, 2011

Has anyone read an article on why we actually NEED 5G? I mean my 4G speed already gets 50Mbps download and they're asking T-Mobile to hit this within 3 years from the majority of the country. I don't download super large files on my phone, and if I do, I use wifi which is 250Mbps. So why do we need 5G? I have read a lot mentioning its potential to change everything and make the world better, but is there anything 5G can do that wifi plus 4G LTE can't?

4. Alan01

Posts: 640; Member since: Mar 21, 2012

5G speeds will actually be 10x faster than 4G LTE and more. Already both Verizon and AT&T have hit peak download speeds above 1Gbps. The low bar that T-Mobile has to pass just tells us that there will still be many using 4G LTE in the U.S. for some time. But you ARE going to want 5G speeds eventually. Regards, Alan

5. JMartin22

Posts: 2380; Member since: Apr 30, 2013

He’s saying there’s no practical purpose for any of that speed. If you did download a very large file, you’re going to expend your likely data cap anyway. 5G just seems like a marketing ploy to justify increasing service prices

6. vincelongman

Posts: 5746; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

No one NEEDs 5G But then again no one NEEDED 4G or 3G either Latency and network capacity are the other key benefits of mmWave and Sub-5GHz 5G Lower latency allows for new use cases, e.g. Stadia/xCloud Higher network capacity means we'll see better real world speeds, especially in highly dense places like stadiums

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