T-Mobile Will Launch its 5G Networks in the U.S. This Year

T-Mobile plans to debut its U.S. 5G service on December 6, with a low-frequency 600MHz radio signal and 5G-capable devices to provide high-speed service to 200 million customers. The carrier has been building out its 5G capabilities for over a year and expects to be able to cover 5,000 cities and towns by the end of 2019. Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G and OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren are the two devices customized for T-Mobile’s 5G network. China, meanwhile, rolled out the world’s largest 5G network, via three state-owned carriers.

VentureBeat reports that similar Samsung and OnePlus devices for other carriers, including Sprint, with which T-Mobile is merging, “will apparently not be able to access 5G on [that carrier]’s 600MHz towers.” Verizon debuted short-distance millimeter wave 5G in a few cities, AT&T debuted a millimeter wave it calls 5G+ for business users only in “smaller parts of over 20 cities,” and T-Mobile released one device for high-speed millimeter wave 5G in “a small collection of major cities, but promised to cover the entire U.S. with a slower version of 5G … throughout 2020.”

Although the FCC and Justice Department approved the T-Mobile/Sprint merger, it is not yet clear how the two companies will “handle the consumer side of merging their separate 5G initiatives.” To overcome the objections of state attorneys general to the merger, T-Mobile chief executive John Legere said that, when the merger is completed, his company “will give 10 million households with children free home Internet access, offer 10 years of free data service to first responders, and include cheap $15-$25 monthly plans with 2GB to 5GB of data.”

Variety reports that, via its three state-owned carriers — China Unicom, China Mobile and China Telecom — China recently made 5G data plans available to its population, making it the world’s largest commercially operating 5G network. The service is available in 50 Chinese cities, in plans that range from RMB128 ($18) to RMB599 ($85).

China initially planned on rolling out its 5G network next year, but moved it up “due to trade tensions with the U.S.” The potential impact of Chinese 5G could be significant. At Smart Cinema, chief executive Jack Gao hopes to “disrupt current theatrical distribution models by enabling theatrical releases via smartphone.”

Ruddy Morgan Productions president Andre Morgan noted that “it’s a positive thing, because you have the opportunity of reaching far greater audiences than we could have imagined 30, 40 years ago.” “Emerging markets are able to leapfrog over rust belt industries,” he noted.