T-Mobile extends fastest 5G coverage to 260 million | Jobs Reply

T-Mobile’s fastest 5G service has reached 260 million customers nationwide, giving the wireless carrier a significant lead over AT&T and Verizon.

T-Mobile reported this week that its mid-band Ultra Capacity 5G has 260 million customers, while its slower, low-band product, Extended Range 5G, has reached 323 million customers. To expand Ultra Capacity service faster, the company added 1,900MHz spectrum. T-Mobile aims to reach 300 million people with Ultra Capacity 5G by the end of 2023.

AT&T and Verizon do not publish their 5G subscriber numbers. However, in October AT&T expected its 5G service to reach 130 million people by the end of the year, and Verizon said its 5G ultra-broadband service would reach 30 million homes.

According to a nationwide report by Umlaut, a consulting firm owned by IT and services company Accenture, T-Mobile has the highest 5G score for coverage, stability and reliability, and download and upload speeds. Umlaut’s 5G Network Performance report, produced between April and September 2022, concluded that T-Mobile achieved the highest 5G score nationwide.

T-Mobile secured an 18-month lead in mid-band 5G ownership when it acquired Sprint in 2020, according to IDC Research Manager Jason Leigh. Meanwhile, rivals Verizon and AT&T had to compete for C-band spectrum crucial for 5G connectivity in an auction conducted by the Federal Communications Commission. Carriers wasted more time waiting for spectrum to be released for ownership, delaying deployment to January 2022.

“They’re playing catch-up,” Leigh said.

There are two versions of Carrier 5G: Nonstandalone and Standalone. Nonstandalone 5G transmits signals according to 5G standards. However, once the signals reach the cell tower, they traverse the legacy LTE network infrastructure from T-Mobile, Verizon, or AT&T.

Maps showing T-Mobile's Ultra Capacity 5G coverage versus Verizon's coverage.
T-Mobile leads AT&T and Verizon in 5G coverage in the United States.

T-Mobile is the leading provider of standalone 5G that requires no legacy infrastructure. It’s also valuable because it offers network slicing that delegates different topologies for different purposes. For example, slices can offer different gigabit speeds, while a sliceless network is more variable in terms of guaranteed speeds. Network slicing also connects services with the required resources in a 5G network.

“Some of the things you can do on the network that keep the latency really low, you can’t do until you get to 5G standalone,” Leigh said.

According to Leigh, operators are beginning to monetize 5G by offering broadband wirelessly over fixed wireless access. With fixed wireless access, consumers use a router or outdoor antenna to wirelessly broadcast Wi-Fi around the home.

“T-Mobile ran like a gangster to provide this because of their mid-band,” he said. “They’re adding more wireless broadband subscribers each quarter than the rest of the wired industry combined.”

Verizon is also offering consumers fixed wireless access through its 5G Home plan.

T-Mobile’s nationwide wireless broadband service appeals to franchises with multiple locations in different cities or states, Leigh said. Before the wireless option, the broadband provider may vary from location to location. However, if the franchisee switches to T-Mobile, a provider offers all locations the same price.

“Things like that will be very appealing,” he said.

Mary Reines joined TechTarget in October 2022 as a News Writer for Networking. Prior to TechTarget, Reines worked as an art editor at the Marblehead reporter, her home newspaper. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she worked as an assistant news editor for the student newspaper The Daily Colleague.

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