T-Mobile marks 5G milestone with first data call on 600 MHz spectrum

The carrier said it has completed a series of successful 5G service tests in the 600 MHz band with partners Intel and Ericsson.

T-Mobile is touting a new 5G milestone on Monday, revealing that it's completed a series of successful 5G service tests in the 600 MHz band. With Intel and Ericsson, the carrier conducted what it says is the world's first 5G data call and video call on 600 MHz spectrum, including successful uplink and downlink communication, on a live commercial network.

During the tests, the teams generated a 5G signal capable of covering more than a thousand square miles from a single tower. T-Mobile also accomplished a tri-band 5G video call with three users on different spectrum bands -- 600 MHz, 28 GHz and 39 GHz.

T-Mobile's interest in the 600 MHz spectrum is part of the broader build out of its 5G network. The 600 MHz band is said to offer regional areas access to 5G speeds, as the signals reach farther than higher-band frequencies. Low-band spectrum is also able to penetrate buildings and is unaffected by line-of-sight issues that hinder millimeter-wave 5G deployments. The carrier's 600 MHz extended range 4G LTE is already live in over 1,500 areas across the US and in Puerto Rico.

"This is a huge accomplishment for Neville and his team, who had a vision for nationwide 5G and are building it out the right way – across multiple spectrum bands," said T-Mobile chief executive John Legere, in a statement. "While the other guys focus on 5G millimeter wave on a handful of blocks in a handful of cities, we're building 5G for everyone, everywhere." 

Legere's enthusiasm aside, T-Mobile competitors are also making progress in the race to 5G. AT&T launched its live commercial 5G network in Waco on December 21, as well as across 11 other US cities. Last September, Verizon, with Ericsson and Qualcomm, announced the completion of its own 5G call performed on in Minneapolis, Minnesota using 39 GHz spectrum.

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