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T-Mobile US claims world first for 5G standalone deployment

T-Mobile US has said its 5G coverage has increased by 30% thanks to its standalone deployment, though it is still only using low-band spectrum for this upgrade.

The US seems obsessed with being first despite not having the walk to match the talk. US telecoms operators were quicker off the start line with 5G, but without access to mid-band spectrum, the experience has been substandard. T-Mobile is correcting this injustice with 2.1 GHz spectrum licences inherited via the Sprint acquisition, but all is not as rosy as the executives would have you believe.

“Since Sprint became part of T-Mobile, we’ve been rapidly combining networks for a supercharged Un-carrier while expanding our nationwide 5G footprint, and today we take a massive step into the future with standalone 5G architecture,” said Neville Ray, President of Technology at T-Mobile.

“This is where it gets interesting, opening the door for massive innovation in this country – and while the other guys continue to play catch up, we’ll keep growing the world’s most advanced 5G network.”

There are of course significant benefits to the standalone implementation.

In non-standalone network architecture (NSA), 600 MHz 5G is combined with mid-band 4G to access the core network. The issue is that the 5G service is limited to the range which is capable through 4G. With the introduction of standalone architecture, the 600 MHz spectrum can run wild which T-Mobile US claims improves coverage by 30%.

Another very interesting element of this story is network slicing. The idea of carving virtual networks for specific business cases (such as autonomous vehicles) or to be sold to individual customers. Network slicing only realises its full potential with standalone 5G networks, and a 5G core, and this is a step in the right direction for T-Mobile US.

T-Mobile US is doing a perfectly adequate job of ensuring the 5G symbol can be seen on it devices far and wide, however soon enough it will have to improve download speeds, living up to its promise to the consumer.

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