T-Mobile lights up 600 MHz for the zero phones that are compatible

T-Mobile has announced it has switched on what it claims are the first 600 MHz LTE network sites worldwide, even though there aren’t any phones on the market that can make use of it.

The statement was filled with the usual self-congratulations and back-slapping we have come to expect from CEO John Legere and his magenta army, but you can’t argue with the steamroller of success which the business is currently driving. It is pretty quick when you look at. The telco space is usually pretty sluggish when it comes to doing something new, but T-Mobile has claimed it has squeezed two years’ worth of work into six months with these sites.

But before we get too carried away congratulating the eccentric CEO, let’s not forget there aren’t any devices which are currently compatible with the 600 MHz band. T-Mobile claims Samsung and LG are working on models which will be, and the secretive iPhone launch might well prove to be as well, but right now it is pretty useless. Your correspondent has a couple of Euros tucked away in a kitchen drawer, which will probably buy a couple of pints somewhere, but not in London.

It should not be considered unusual for such sites to be launched as a means of testing the spectrum prior to a full commercial launch some way down the road, but the fanfare shouldn’t be too glorious yet. But we’re pretty sure that small things such as reality won’t wipe the grin off Legere’s face. It’s a PR win and nothing more, but it is once again coming from T-Mobile. It might be useless for the moment, but it is useless to T-Mobile, not the others who are constantly seeming to play catch-up.

“Earlier this month, wireless customers coast to coast proved T-Mobile already delivers America’s best unlimited network. We swept the competition in OpenSignal’s report on all counts – a global industry first. And that was before we started lighting up the world’s first 600 MHz LTE network,” said Legere.

“Buckle up, carriers. Because the Un-carrier’s 600 MHz network just got real.”

The sites were switched on in Cheyenne, Wyoming using Nokia equipment, and there are unspecified plans to continue the rollout. The focus here is primarily in rural America, where there is unlikely to as much interference as in the cities. This in itself could be considered a bit of an Uncarrier move; launching new stuff in the countryside!? Who would have thought that.

In terms of the wider rollout, as mentioned before the details are a bit thin, but there are plans for Wyoming, Northwest Oregon, West Texas, Southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, Western North Dakota, Maine, Coastal North Carolina, Central Pennsylvania, Central Virginia and Eastern Washington. Timelines and scale are anyone’s guess right now, but this is certainly a statement of intent. T-Mobile claims to T currently has low-band spectrum holdings that cover 272 million POPs; opening such sites will increase the LTE footprint for T-Mobile from 315 million to 321 million by the end of the year

Interestingly enough, while Legere might give the impression of being a lone ranger, the team has talked up collaboration as the route to success. Nokia and Qualcomm have launched new technology to help, while T-Mobile has been working with the FCC and broadcasters like PBS to clear the spectrum, and Samsung and LG plan to launch phones that tap into this new spectrum in Q4.

Should we be giving T-Mobile a round of applause for this? We’re not too sure. It’s progress for progress sake, but perhaps the most significant point to take away from this bit of news is that it is T-Mobile making this progress once again, not anyone else.

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