T-Mobile US lit up new 600MHz sites in nearly 600 cities across 28 states in the second half of 2017, condensing what would normally be a two-year process into just six months.
According to CTO Neville Ray, T-Mobile deployed 600MHz spectrum in a total of 586 cities through to end-December following its first 600MHz site launch in August. A list of locations provided by the operator showed a heavy concentration of deployments in Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Wyoming, California and Illinois.
In December 2017, Ray said T-Mobile is pushing to bring “thousands” more 600MHz sites online in 2018. An operator representative told Mobile World Live on Wednesday (3 January) T-Mobile will focus on augmenting low-band capacity in markets which don’t already have 700MHz coverage and target geographies where spectrum is expected to be cleared quickly such as New York.
The operator also confirmed completion of an acquisition of Iowa Wireless, which will allow it to expand its LTE footprint in Iowa and western Illinois.
In a statement, Ray called the LTE coverage gap between T-Mobile and Verizon a “thing of history”, explaining any small differences which exist “will rapidly disappear as we accelerate expansion into rural America.”
“We’re just getting started with the 600MHz low-band spectrum we’re rolling out now, and it’s a wide-open highway for customers, increasing coverage, capacity and in-building reach.”
T-Mobile noted in a press release it will launch more than a dozen new 600MHz-compatible devices in 2018, including budget-friendly and “superphone” options. The representative declined to comment on whether phones from Samsung and Apple will be among those devices. T-Mobile currently offers two 600MHz-enabled devices – the LG V30 and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 Active – but Apple failed to include compatibility for the band in the iPhone 8 and iPhone X.
The 600MHz band plays a key role in T-Mobile’s 5G plans as the operator previously said it will use all of its spectrum bands to deliver a nationwide mobile 5G network by 2020. Ray previously revealed T-Mobile plans to begin work on its 5G build in 2019. In a Twitter post on 30 December, he added upgrades to 5G radios will come first with work on the network core to follow.