T-Mobile announced today that it has opened a new 20,000 square foot lab that will be used to test devices-including smartphones-that connect to the carrier's network including 5G, 4G LTE, 3G, LAA and Narrowband IoT connections. Located in Bellevue, Washington where T-Mobile's Launch Pad innovation center is found, the new lab is where tT-Mobile's new Device Lab puts "Tappy" back in the newshe wireless operator's engineers will optimize the quality of voice and data signals, video and more. It also is where T-Mobile will test how well new devices stand up to extreme heat, water, and drops. The carrier also tests the latest software updates, apps and services to see how they mesh with new phones, tablets, and wearables.
There will be many 5G tests run in the lab, making sure that devices will work fine with the next generation of wireless connectivity. This will include tests over low-band, mid-band and mmWave frequencies; T-Mobile plans on using a combination of all three to build out the first nationwide 5G network in the states. It also explains why T-Mobile wants to merge with Sprint; the latter has a hoard of mid-band 2.5GHz airwaves.
The new lab also includes the Sub-6 GHz 5G Radio Performance Chamber with 50 antennas placed at different angles. This chamber can help measure how far a 5G signal can travel from the cell site and still deliver a quality connection. The 5G mmWave antenna range features a base station at one end of the room with a smartphone at the other end. This helps engineers make sure that a quality 5G signal is being received by a handset while it is moving. T-Mobile says that high-frequency mmWave antennas require more testing to make sure everything is working as it should.
Launching the first nationwide 5G network will give the U.S. economy a boost
Other rooms are used to make sure that the carrier's 5G signals get through regardless of the obstacles they might face. While the carrier didn't mention it specifically, it appears that the latest version of "Tappy" the robot is being used to test how a phone responds to a week's worth of customer usage in just one day. The drop test allows devices to hit a concrete floor from 14 different angles to gauge how they will stand up to subscribers klutzy moments.
5G is the next generation of wireless connectivity and promises to deliver dataspeeds ten times faster than 4G LTE. HD movies that take minutes to download today will be completely loaded in seconds. More importantly, 5G speeds will help create new businesses in the same manner than 4G LTE helped create the rideshare industry and two multi-billion dollar companies (Uber and Lyft).
T-Mobile has already successfully completed data sessions over its 600MHz spectrum. The company spent nearly $8 billion during an FCC auction to obtain its holdings because low-frequency airwaves travel farther and penetrate buildings better. On the other hand, mmWave spectrum might not travel as far or penetrate buildings as well as low band holdings do, but they can handle more traffic and offer extremely fast dataspeeds. If T-Mobile is unable to close on its merger with Sprint, the company has reportedly asked the FCC to auction off mid-band spectrum in the 3.7GHz-4.2GHz range.