T-Mobile 5G plans look to maintain pace with AT&T and Verizon
T-Mobile 5G plans are set for a boost as the carrier filed applications for experimental spectrum license usage around its Washington headquarters
T-Mobile US is moving on plans to begin testing of “5G” technologies, filing applications with the Federal Communications Commission to use experimental spectrum licenses in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands around its headquarters in Bellevue, Washington.
In the fillings, T-Mobile US said it’s looking to conduct “tests of 5G technology in the millimeter wave bands, which may play an important role in meeting the increasing demand for data-intensive applications.”
The tests are set at four locations, beginning with an indoor trial at the carrier’s test facility to “better understand the characteristics of millimeter wave transmissions for indoor 5G communications.” The carrier is also looking to tap the spectrum for a pair of outdoor tests to gain insight into signal propagation between buildings to help with network design. T-Mobile US said the outdoor tests will use fixed transmitters and mobile devices at a maximum range of 1.2 miles.
“Because the tests will be conducted using very low power transmitters in controlled environments and based on the current limited use of these bands, the tests will be performed in a manner without causing harmful interference to licensees in the band,” T-Mobile US noted in its fillings. “The proposed operations will therefore further advance T-Mobile’s understanding of 5G technology and operations in the millimeter wave bands and will ultimately allow T-Mobile to deploy next-generation 5G mobile services.”
T-Mobile US last month jumped into the 5G technology push announcing plans with Ericsson and Nokia Networks to begin trialling technology later this year. Nokia said its work will include the use of “preselected spectrum” in the 28 GHz band to trial and test “5G components and accompanying use cases.” Ericsson noted its current work in the space has resulted in equipment prototypes achieving network speeds in excess of 25 gigabits per second.
T-Mobile US CTO Neville Ray said the work would include its current LTE technology and spectrum, with plans to support the next technology iteration in time for the launch of 5G-enabled consumer smartphones sometime after 2020. Those comments reinforce the carrier’s relatively conservative approach towards 5G, which has become a hot topic among wireless carriers.
T-Mobile US’ fillings follow those of rival AT&T Mobility, which also filed paperwork with the FCC seeking an experimental license to conduct technology trials in Austin, Texas, using spectrum in the 3.4-3.6 GHz, 3.7-4.2 GHz, 14.5-15.35 GHz and 27.5-28.5 GHz bands. The carrier said the testing would be used to test “experimental equipment” in support of “potential (5G) multigigabyte per second applications for fixed and mobile wireless communication networks at higher transmission rates and lower latency than is currently available,” and supporting voice, video and data.
Both followed aggressive moves last year by Verizon Wireless, which announced plans to begin network trials in 2016, and a commercial launch in 2017. The carrier said it expects the eventual standard to support 50 times the network throughput of current LTE networks, latency in the single-digit milliseconds and the ability to support increased network demand from a growing number of connected devices and the “Internet of Things.”
The International Telecommunications Union, which is the body designated to establish “G” standards, only recently came out with its official name for 5G (IMT-2020) that highlights the expected 2020 timeframe in which most expect the technology to be ready for commercial deployments. Core tenants to 5G are expected to include more diverse spectrum bands, greater use of small cells and deeper integration of virtualization technology using software-defined networking, network functions virtualization and cloud platforms.
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