Major US carrier T-Mobile has brought its first commercial 5G cell based on the 28GHz band online, thanks to help from network equipment maker Nokia and chipset giant Intel. The three set up the cell and managed to create a successful data session in tandem with T-Mobile's normal commercial network in the Un-Carrier's hometown of Bellevue, Washington. The test took place in a downtown area where the network was already jam-packed with workers, commuters, and tourists simply enjoying the downtown area. It used Nokia's commercial-stage AirScale radio communications system, along with Radio Frequency Integrated Circuit and a specialized 5G Mobile Trial Platform made by Intel. Nokia was the one to put out a press release on the test, and did not specify how the test went in terms of speed or latency.
According to T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray, this test is one of the biggest steps in T-Mobile's plan to get 5G out to its customers using its full array of spectrum holdings, from the ultra-low 600MHz spectrum that it won at the most recent FCC incentive auction all the way to mmWave spectrum, an extremely high spectrum band that acts as a key component in many carriers' 5G plans. Nokia North America head Rick Corker, meanwhile, said that his company is proud to be a part of T-Mobile's fledgling 5G plans in the United States, and will continue to work together with the Un-Carrier going forward. Intel did not issue any official comment on the matter.
T-Mobile is working hard to be the first carrier to put out a reliable, consistently fast, and well-built 5G network for its customers. The Un-Carrier has been making heavy use of enhanced LTE technologies like LTE-U, carrier aggregation, and massive MIMO in building out its commercial LTE network. Today's test focused on simulating a mature 5G network functioning alongside T-Mobile's current network, but in reality, the company's network buildout efforts seem to be moving toward using futuristic 5G technologies with its current network. This means that T-Mobile could very likely have the option open in the future to make a few simple adjustments and hardware additions to its base stations to convert swaths of its LTE network over to 3GPP-compliant 5G, all at minimal cost and over the course of a relatively short time, as far as timelines for commercial 5G deployment go.