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T-Mobile 5G: Everything you need to know

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Galaxy S20 Ultra

Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central

T-Mobile has one of the most ambitious 5G plans of any carrier out there and with its purchase of Sprint, T-Mobile has a ton of spectrum and a great platform to build a great 5G network. T-Mobile has already deployed a nationwide 5G network on its low-band 600MHz spectrum and is adding even more speed and capacity with its 2.5GHz spectrum. T-Mobile also has mmWave spectrum that has been deployed in a few cities. This combined network is poised to be one of the strongest in the nation.

Do I have 5G coverage on T-Mobile and Sprint?

Most people that have T-Mobile 5G coverage right now are covered by a low-band network built on its 600MHz band n71 spectrum. T-Mobile calls coverage on this band Extended Range 5G. Reclaimed from broadcast TV, Extended Range 5G has allowed T-Mobile to upgrade its existing towers with 5G equipment and provide the same level of coverage people have come to expect from 3G and 4G.

T-Mobile 5G SA

Source: T-Mobile

T-Mobile is still building a high-band, millimeter wave, 5G network in a few cities. This deployment of 5G is on bands N260 and N261 at 39Ghz and 28Ghz respectively. With some coverage in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas, Cleveland, and Atlanta, the number of cities is high compared to other carriers but the actual 5G coverage is still quite low.

Which phones work with T-Mobile 5G?

T-Mobile phones will be compatible with different networks depending on their software and hardware. For the most part, most 5G phones will work with both of T-Mobile’s sub-6 bands. With T-Mobile’s growing 5G coverage and plenty of new phones with 5G support, if you’re buying a new phone, it should have 5G.

Device 600MHz 2.5GHz mmWave
Apple iPhone 12 series ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Google Pixel 4a 5G ✔️ ✔️
LG V60 ThinQ ✔️ ✔️
LG Velvet 5G ✔️ ✔️
LG Wing 5G ✔️ ✔️
Motorola razr 5G ✔️ ✔️
OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren ✔️ ✔️
OnePlus 8 ✔️ ✔️
OnePlus 8T+ 5G ✔️ ✔️
OnePlus Nord M10 ✔️ ✔️
Samsung Galaxy A51 5G ✔️ ✔️
Samsung Galaxy A71 5G ✔️ ✔️
Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G ✔️
Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Samsung Galaxy S10 5G ✔️
Samsung Galaxy S20 5G ✔️ ✔️
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G ✔️ ✔️
Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Samsung Galaxy S21 series ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G ✔️ ✔️
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
T-Mobile REVVL 5G ✔️ ✔️
T-Mobile is using Sprint’s 2.5GHz spectrum to bolster its own 5G network and to do so has taken the Sprint 5G network down. Sprint customers with a Galaxy S20 device got an update that enabled access to T-Mobile’s 5G network but that’s it. Older devices like the Galaxy Note 10+ 5G or OnePlus 7T Pro 5G will not be getting an update to support T-Mobile’s 5G.

Pixel 4a 5G display

Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central

All T-Mobile plans come with 5G

All T-Mobile plans can access the 5G network. T-Mobile makes no distinction between its networks so any customer with a compatible phone should be able to access it. This has also carried over to T-Mobile Prepaid and MVNOs such as Metro by T-Mobile and Google Fi. T-Mobile has also enabled 5G on all Sprint plans.

Boost Mobile is now owned by Dish and is transitioning its customers to the new T-Mobile network with the goal of eventually moving all of its customers to its own standalone 5G network.

What tech is T-Mobile using for 5G?

T-Mobile 5G Spectrum

Source: T-Mobile

5G comes in several different forms with a variety of results depending on what resources a carrier can throw at it. T-Mobile started with high-band 5G on 28Ghz and 32Ghz bands. With this network, T-Mobile should be competitive with what Verizon and AT&T have been doing once the network has more time to mature. This high-band deployment should be capable of very high speeds but building penetration and coverage are much more limited than we’re used to with 4G.

T-Mobile launched a 600Mhz, low-band, Extended Range 5G network in December of 2019. With new equipment, T-Mobile was also able to update its 4G LTE service on the same tower. AT&T and Verizon have also deployed low-band 5G networks with similar coverage capabilities.

Of course, there’s Sprint’s 2.5GHz spectrum. We got an early look at Sprint’s 5G and while things were promising. T-Mobile has already begun to integrate this spectrum into its network adding more speed and capacity. T-Mobile has more than 160MHz of spectrum at 2.5GHz in the top 100 US markets and has already shut down Sprint’s 5G network so it can continue implementing the spectrum into its network.

On August 4, 2020, T-Mobile launched its standalone 5G (5G SA) network. 5G SA can work alone without devices needing to connect to an older, less efficient LTE network first. Previously, 5G phones required this existing infrastructure to work properly.

Functionally, this is essentially the same network as before with some nice improvements. According to T-Mobile’s announcement, 5G SA improves coverage by 30 percent since phones will no longer need to connect to a mid-band LTE signal that doesn’t reach as far a 5G at 600MHz. While there were still many improvements with non standalone 5G compared to LTE in speed, the 5G network was held back. T-Mobile estimates a 40 percent improvement in latency thanks to the switch which should help data access be much more immediate.

What happens to Sprint’s 5G customers?

T-Mobile’s purchase of Sprint is complete and with it comes great potential. Many people will have flashbacks to older failed mergers but T-Mobile points to its well-handled Metro PCS integration as a model for this joining. T-Mobile estimates that fully integrating the networks will take up to three years so however, both Sprint and T-Mobile customers are starting to see some new benefits.

Sprint customers have gained access to LTE roaming on the T-Mobile network when Sprint signal is low. Also, Sprint customers with the Galaxy S20 can now connect to T-Mobile’s 5G network including low-band 600MHz 5G as well as the 2.5GHz 5G network. Sprint customers looking for 5G should switch to the T-Mobile network if they’re covered.

Is T-Mobile 5G worth it?

On T-Mobile, it comes down to if you want the phone because there is no current separation of plans. Most new phones you can buy for T-Mobile support 5G so most new T-Mobile customers and upgrading existing customers will be using the network. If you’re looking for a good reason to upgrade your phone, 5G isn’t it.

While 4G LTE will continue to be fast enough for most people for a few years into the future, eventually everyone will transition to 5G. With the high speeds we’re currently seeing on T-Mobile’s low-band 5G and no solid date for how long it will take to fully integrate the Sprint network, there’s no rush to jump into 5G.

What is 5G for Good?

5G for Good is an initiative to use the power of 5G to help the community. While some people have accused T-Mobile of putting on a show to grease the government’s wheels in approving its merger with Sprint, it’s nice to see technology making a positive impact on the world.

It’s worth noting that all of the projections here depend on the merger going through and T-Mobile likely won’t be able to get it done without the extra spectrum from Sprint.

Connecting Heroes Initiative

The Connecting Heroes Initiative is a program that intends to bring free 5G access to first responders in America. This includes both public and non-profit law enforcement, fire, and EMS agencies. It’s first-come, first-serve for those that sign up so if you want your agency to get connected on 5G, get registered as soon as possible.

Project 10Million

It’s been shown that children without access to the internet likely won’t receive as good an education as those that do. Of course, this is also linked to income inequality.

Project 10Millions aims to get rid of the homework gap that is caused by millions of children not having access to the internet for school work. The project intends to offer free service, hotspots, and reduced-cost devices to 10 million households over the next five years.

T-Mobile Connect

T-Mobile connect is simply a low-priced phone plan with access to the 5G network. Plans are offered at $15 per month for unlimited talk and text with 2GB of high-speed data. There is also a $25 per month plan with 5GB of data. Interestingly, the plan is set to grow as usage does by increasing the data allowance by 500MB a year for five years. This is by no means a huge amount, but for a low-income family, this can be a lifesaver.

These plans are already available on T-Mobile prepaid.

The next big thing in connectivity

5G

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