T-Mobile announced today in a blog post that it plans to begin testing its 600MHz spectrum this summer, and it has already begun rolling it out in some areas (which are unnamed). The Un-carrier noted that the FCC handed over the spectrum licenses to T-Mobile yesterday, and it is wasting no time getting going in developing its 600MHz network. With T-Mobile doing tests this summer on this new spectrum, it plans to have it commercially available by the fall. Which means smartphones that launch later this year will likely sport T-Mobile's 600MHz spectrum band, so that customers can take full advantage of the new spectrum.
This is all well ahead of schedule, and many skeptics had stated that it would be several years before carriers could use this spectrum. T-Mobile is aiming to prove everyone wrong. It had stated earlier this year, even before the Incentive Auction had ended, that it would have 600MHz spectrum rolled out in some capacity before the end of the year, and it looks like T-Mobile is well on its way to doing just that. T-Mobile is planning to use this spectrum to improve its current 4G LTE network, and will also use it to build its 5G network – which T-Mobile says will be the first nationwide 5G network in the US.
The 600MHz spectrum was a big deal for T-Mobile. This is because it's considered low-band spectrum, which T-Mobile has the least of, out of the four carriers. T-Mobile had picked up some 700MHz spectrum from Verizon and various regional carriers, but now it has a large amount of low-band spectrum. Now low-band spectrum is pretty important because it allows a carrier to cover more area than something like T-Mobile's 1900MHz band. The lower the band, the more coverage it offers. While high-band spectrum, like Sprint's 2.5GHz is the holy grail, because it has a whole lot of bandwidth, so it can offer faster speeds. Low-band spectrum doesn't offer as much bandwidth, but that is where carrier aggregation comes in, allowing T-Mobile to pair it with other bands, like its 1900MHz spectrum that's in the mid-band range.