Well, that was fast. Even though T-Mobile vaguely announced back in May that its standalone 5G launch would take place “later this year”, following that up with a more aggressive but similarly imprecise “later this quarter” timeline less than a couple of weeks ago, the big day has already arrived.
A long list of incredible achievements and impressive firsts
Because the word “nationwide” seems to mean different things in different announcements from different companies, we should probably highlight the particular (and particularly mind-blowing) numbers associated with this latest claim. Apparently, the big “standalone 5G” breakthrough is set to improve T-Mo’s already industry-leading 5G coverage
by a solid 30 percent.
That means almost 250 million people in over 7,500 cities and towns across no less than 1.3
million square miles are now (theoretically) covered, up from the 225 million people, nearly 6,000 cities and towns, and over one million square miles boasted before today’s announcement.
The updated list of 5G-supporting cities and towns is unfortunately not available in full anywhere on T-Mobile’s official website, although you can check out this extremely detailed coverage map
to get an overview of all the places with a live 5G signal down to a neighborhood level.
Said list includes “hundreds of small towns across America” in addition to your usual metropolitan suspects, and to celebrate this amazing expansion in style, Magenta used almost 300 drones to create a unique spectacle over the skies of Lisbon, North Dakota. With a population of a little over 2,000 people as of 2010, that’s not a town you’d expect to see mentioned in these types of press releases, let alone headline one of its own
. But that’s the difference between T-Mobile and Verizon
What is standalone 5G and why is it so important?
Even if you don’t know the first thing about the excessively confusing and rapidly evolving 5G industry, the answer to the latter question seems pretty easy to guess based on T-Mobile’s newest coverage feats. But apart from improving availability by allowing the “Un-carrier” to “unleash its entire 600 MHz footprint for 5G”, the groundbreaking technology is expected to bring 5G “closer to reaching its true potential with faster speeds and lower latency”… eventually.
That sounds like the ultimate dream of any wireless service provider nowadays, which is why everyone from Verizon to AT&T and even Dish is working hard on following T-Mo’s suit. Sprint’s replacement
will actually build its entire 5G network on a standalone core from scratch
, having no 4G LTE infrastructure of its own to develop a non-standalone architecture (NSA) first.
AT&T and Verizon are obviously in that latter position, needing anywhere between a few months and a year
to enhance their current NSA 5G infrastructure with standalone rollouts of their own. Basically, the standalone 5G architecture loses the aforementioned 4G LTE backup, unlocking “blazing fast speeds in more places, real-time responses and massive connectivity” as it fully relies on state-of-the-art 5G technology.
In other words, T-Mobile is a couple of steps ahead of its competition in yet another major 5G department
, once again proving it definitely has what it takes to spearhead the industry’s next big step forward and realistically hope to take the lead in customer numbers in the not-too-distant future.