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New report highlights T-Mobile's incredible recent progress in the mid-band 5G field

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New report highlights T-Mobile's incredible recent progress in the mid-band 5G field
For (certain) advertising purposes, T-Mobile cannot claim to be the US "leader in 5G" anymore, but there's obviously no stopping the "Un-carrier" from touting precisely that title in its official virtual newsroom, especially with concrete evidence supplied by one of the most trustworthy mobile analytics companies out there.

Opensignal already showered Magenta with a bunch of 5G mobile experience awards in its latest in-depth quarterly evaluation of the nation's top three wireless service providers, and now the research firm is... going even more in-depth with its market analysis, taking a closer look at the different aspects of T-Mo's 5G network.

We're talking about the so-called "layers" of today's industry-leading "cake", and even more specifically, the incredible progress made by T-Mobile over just six months with mid-band spectrum, which just so happens to be the key missing component of Verizon and AT&T's 5G networks at the moment.

T-Mobile's Ultra Capacity 5G is getting better and better


In case you were wondering exactly how the second-largest mobile network operator stateside (by subscriber numbers) managed to jump from an average 5G download speed of 58.1 Mbps all the way up to 118.7 Mbps between April and October 2021, the answer is pretty simple.


That massively advertised Ultra Capacity (UC) network, which represents the middle section of Magenta's three-layer 5G tower, was greatly improved this year, not only reaching more and more territories across the nation but also constantly surging from a speed perspective.

While Opensignal recorded 170.1 Mbps averages on the "Un-carrier's" 2.5 GHz mid-band spectrum as recently as March, that already fairly impressive number increased to 185.4 Mbps just the next month, breaking the 200 Mbps barrier in June and reaching as high as 239.3 Mbps last month.

Although the progress considerably slowed down in July, August, and September, T-Mobile plans to continue to expand the penetration and boost the speed of its UC 5G signal. From an availability perspective, the short-term goal is to cover as many as 200 million people by the end of 2021 alone, dwarfing both the short and long-term rollout ambitions of AT&T and Verizon as far as their recently acquired C-Band spectrum is concerned.


T-Mo's mid-band network managed to vastly improve its reach as well in Opensignal's tests, growing much more easily accessible over the last six months. Of course, the operator's 5G users still spend the overwhelming majority of their time connected to slower low-band technology, and that remains a problem for speed addicts.

T-Mobile's "nationwide" 5G network is showing no "statistically significant" change


As big as the aforementioned 200 million number might sound, especially compared to the zero people currently covered with mid-band 5G by AT&T and Verizon, T-Mobile's truly nationwide 5G signal continues to rely on 600 MHz spectrum.

This has never been materially faster than a good old fashioned 4G LTE connection, and unfortunately, it hasn't made a world of progress lately, jumping from a 27.7 Mbps download speed average in March to 29.5 Mbps in September.


That explains why T-Mo's 5G network as a whole still sits well below 200 Mbps in Opensignal's research, and believe it or not, the standalone 5G technology hailed as a great breakthrough last year might actually be holding back Magenta's low-band speeds.

Yes, the numbers are way higher on non-standalone access (NSA) 5G right now, which essentially means that 4G LTE still has an important role to play in supporting the best possible 5G experience for millions of customers.

Otherwise put, the road to a silky smooth and blazing fast 5G experience for the US masses remains long and convoluted, but if there's one carrier that can get there faster than the competition, that's definitely T-Mobile.

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