T-Mobile delays the launch of 600 MHz 5G until the second half of 2019


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T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray said the 5G would be a second half story for the company.

Roger Cheng / CNET

Eager to jump on the T-Mobile 5G network? You will have to wait a little longer.

T-Mobile's chief technology officer, Neville Ray, said Monday in an interview with MWC that the company would not officially launch its 5G service in its first 30 cities until the second half of 2019. The reason: the lack of listening phones in the critical spectrum of the 600 MHz low band that will feed much of its initial 5G coverage.

"We were hoping, a year ago, that we would already have a device," he said in Barcelona. "It's not there yet."

Ray had pushed the industry to go faster with compatible devices, but he noted that much of the industry was working on devices supporting bands with higher frequencies, which offer better performance. speeds, but less reach. The first 5G smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, will use the highest frequency bands and will come out with Verizon Wireless first.

AT & T, Sprint and T-Mobile all have networks compatible with the Galaxy S10 5G, and T-Mobile has announced that it will carry the phone in the first half. But the coverage using a very high frequency millimeter wave spectrum is so minimal that Ray said the company was not sure how – or if – it would promote it.

Ray's dealership throws a curtain in the race for 5G, as operators push for next-generation wireless technology, which promises a much faster and more responsive network. AT & T has already launched 5G on a dozen markets, but in limited areas, while Verizon has a 5G home network. Sprint, meanwhile, says plans to launch 5G in four markets in May.

This delay also highlights the complexity of building a 5G network and indicates that companies need to focus on the type of spectrum they can use. Verizon and AT & T initially defended the spectrum of millimeter waves because it can provide very high speeds, but with limited range. T-Mobile opted for a lower bandwidth spectrum with slower speech spikes, but better coverage.

Much of the initial investment has been spent on millimeter – wave devices, which does not work with T – Mobile 's strengths. As such, you expect a noisy launch later in the year, although the Galaxy S10 5G can pick up small pieces of 5G here and there.

He stated that he was not worried about AT & T and Verizon who stood out in the 5G race because of the limited range of millimeter waves.

"You can not go to an American consumer and charge him a big premium, it works on the street corners," said Ray.

Ray congratulated Sprint for having at least claimed a claim and said that it would cover more than 1,000 square miles by the first half. He expects to hear about AT & T and Verizon's coverage plans.

AT & T extolled its existing service and what's left to come.

"Today we are offering the only network and 5G mobile device live and continue to expand coverage and device options," said an AT & T spokesperson. "I'm surprised that they continue to ignore our announced intention to offer a 5G mobile network on the low bandwidth spectrum this year with national coverage beginning in 2020".

Verizon was not available to comment.

Ray said the company would go ahead with 5G in the second period once it would get a device capable of exploiting its 600 MHz spectrum. He refused to say which company would provide the phone.

Originally released at 6:12 am Pacific Time.
Updated, 8:05 PT: Adds the background and comments of AT & T.
Updated: 09:05 AM Add more background.
Update, 10:15 am, Pacific Time:
Add an additional quote from Neville Ray.

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Mobile World Congress 2019

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