T-Mobile had received its spectrum licenses from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Now the major wireless carrier is putting them to good use by officially launching its new 600 MHz LTE network in the city of Cheyenne, the state capital of Wyoming, with the use of equipment provided by Nokia.
T-Mobile’s 600 MHz LTE network in Cheyenne is considered the first of its kind in the world. The carrier’s overall plan is to have the high-end, low-band spectrum deployed first in rural regions in the United States, then later expand the roll-outs to include other markets across the country. Deployments of this nature typically take some time, but the company is looking to attain commercial availability in half a year’s time
It is no secret that T-Mobile has a significant interest in 600 MHz spectrum. After all, it had emerged as the top bidder in incentive auction that the FCC had conducted earlier this year, bidding close to $8 billion. Looking ahead, the carrier is planning to launch more 600 MHz network sites in areas such as Northwest Oregon, West Texas, Southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, Western North Dakota, Maine, Coastal North Carolina, Central Pennsylvania, Central Virginia, and Eastern Washington. Upon completion of these roll-outs, the company should be able to improve its LTE coverage from the current 315 million users to a projected 321 million by the end of 2017.
Of course, getting people to actually start taking full advantage of 600 MHz LTE is easier said than done, but T-Mobile is working to speed things up by coordinating with infrastructure providers, chip manufacturers, and phone makers in order to make 600 MHz LTE more accessible to users. And there has been significant progress -- Samsung and LG already have plans to introduce handsets that will tap into 600 MHz before year’s end, while companies like Qualcomm and Nokia are developing new technology that will be compatible with the spectrum.
T-Mobile is claiming that since 2015, it has already doubled its LTE coverage, and the 600 MHz spectrum it acquired earlier this year should further improve its LTE reach, and help immensely in setting up a firm backbone for its upcoming 5G offering. Right now, the carrier possesses an average of 31 MHz of 600 MHz low-band spectrum that is ideal for covering great distances, and is more effective in indoor settings (inside buildings and other structures) compared to mid-band airwaves.