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T-Mobile continues its furious 5G network upgrading pace, inching closer to a big year-end goal


Shortly after finally being allowed to complete a merger in the works since April 2018, T-Mobile announced back in April 2020 it had already started to integrate Sprint’s mid-band spectrum into its widespread but sluggish 5G network initially based entirely on low-band technology.

Less than seven months later, the “Un-carrier” can boast mid-band 5G coverage reaching “nearly 410 cities and towns across the country”, which is close to double the count touted just a month ago, bringing Magenta one huge step closer to its goal of providing average download speeds of around 300 Mbps and up to 1 Gbps peaks to a grand total of 100 million people by the end of this year alone. 

Where can you get mid-band 5G coverage?

Although we can’t seem to be able to find a full list containing the aforementioned 400+ cities and towns anywhere on T-Mobile‘s official website, the nation’s second-largest wireless service provider is flaunting all the 198 (!!!) names of new places added to said list between late September and now both in its latest press release and on social media.

Possibly the greatest thing about T-Mo’s mid-band expansion is that small towns are not ignored in favor of metropolitan areas, receiving pretty much the same kind of unconditional love and constant attention. Well, there’s also the pace at which the “Un-carrier” is upgrading its low-band infrastructure, lighting up around 1,000 sites per month with 2.5 GHz 5G spectrum.

Why is mid-band 5G so important?

If you’re confused about the differences between low, mid, and high-band 5G technology, T-Mobile’s layer cake metaphor and marketing materials can give you a rough idea of what’s what. Basically, the high-band (aka mmWave) spectrum Verizon chose to bet big on for the first stage of its 5G deployment is largely useless on a wide scale, delivering insane speeds… for a very small number of users… in parts of select cities… as long as there are no trees or walls in the way.

Meanwhile, the low-band layer is the foundation of T-Mobile, AT&T, and even Verizon’s nationwide 5G network starting earlier this month, but although its coverage and penetration are unrivaled, the speed improvements it enables compared to 4G LTE connectivity are marginal to nonexistent.
That means mid-band is “the 5G spectrum”, as well as the “goldilocks” 5G spectrum, as T-Mobile puts it in its newest bombastic press release, offering the best possible combination of coverage and speed.
In case you’re wondering why Verizon and AT&T are not simply following T-Mobile’s suit with their own mid-band 5G rollouts, the answer lies in the two’s current spectrum holdings. In a nutshell, Big Red and Ma Bell appear to have adopted losing 5G strategies, neglecting to even bid when offered the chance for the wireless airwaves Sprint and then T-Mobile furiously collected across the country.

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