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Technology T-Mobile's 5G network is here, but it's not worth the upgrade yet

16:50  05 december  2019
16:50  05 december  2019 Source:   cnet.com

The OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition is T-Mobile’s second 5G phone

  The OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition is T-Mobile’s second 5G phone Pricing and availability are yet to be announcedThe McLaren Edition of the phone is similar to the standard 7T Pro model, but it features an orange-and-black color scheme and increases the amount of RAM from 8GB to 12GB. It’s available as a 4G-only model outside of the US, while T-Mobile’s version will support both 4G and 5G.

And T - Mobile knows this. While it has been hyping the first nationwide 5 G network , which works outside as well as indoors -- unlike the super-fast, but super-limited 5 G that Verizon has been touting -- it has also tried to So is T - Mobile ' s 5 G network worth an upgrade ? For most people, probably not.

The mobile web did not yet exist. Then 3G arrived, making it possible to surf the internet on a smartphone. 5 G is already here , but unless the stars of your location, the wireless carrier you subscribe to and the smartphone you own are perfectly aligned, you probably can' t use it yet .

T-Mobile's launch of its broader 5G network on Friday, which includes the sale of the $900 OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren and $1,300 Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G, marks a big step for the next-generation wireless technology in the US, the first to cover a majority of the nation. Unfortunately for most people, that big step is right now more foundational than functional.

a hand holding a cell phone: T-Mobile's low-band 5G network has arrived. Eli Blumenthal, CNET© Provided by CNET T-Mobile's low-band 5G network has arrived. Eli Blumenthal, CNET

If you're looking for this new low-band 5G network to completely change how you use your phone, you're going to be disappointed. In using the OnePlus device the past few days in New York, the experience was for the most part identical with T-Mobile's current 4G LTE nationwide network. My colleague, Jessica Dolcourt, found her test unit in Maui was also hit or miss, which demonstrates that dead zones are as challenging in 5G as they are in 4G.

Telecom Italia Likely to Cut Nokia Out of Mobile Network Upgrade

  Telecom Italia Likely to Cut Nokia Out of Mobile Network Upgrade Telecom Italia SpA will probably exclude Nokia Oyj from a mobile network upgrade and award the business to Ericsson AB and Huawei Technologies Co., according to people familiar with the matter. © Bloomberg Five Carl Zeiss AG camera lenses adorn the rear case of a Nokia 9 PureView smartphone on display during a HMD Global Oy launch event ahead of the MWC Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019. At the wireless industry’s biggest conference, over 100,000 people are set to see the latest innovations in smartphones, artificial intelligence devices and autonomous drones exhibited by more than 2,400 companies.

T - Mobile claims it will have true, nationwide mobile 5 G coverage based on industry standards and it starts on December 6. T - Mobile ’ s nationwide 5 G coverage hinges on this merger, which will combine both networks to create the nation’ s second-largest carrier, simply named T - Mobile (sometimes with

5 G networks are here now - here ' s our guide to all the latest news and more. 5 G networks are the next generation of mobile internet connectivity, offering faster speeds and more reliable It ' s currently only available in limited parts of Chicago and a few other locations, and there are just two handsets

And T-Mobile knows this. While it has been hyping the first nationwide 5G network, which works outside as well as indoors -- unlike the super-fast, but super-limited 5G that Verizon has been touting -- it has also tried to keep expectations in check. The company isn't charging extra for 5G -- unlike Verizon and AT&T which require their latest unlimited plans -- and has said it expects 5G to be on average 20% faster nationwide than its 4G LTE service even if it doesn't near the impressive speeds of its rival.

a close up of a cell phone: T-Mobile's millimeter-wave 5G, left on the Galaxy S10 5G, is much faster than its low-band 5G network, right. Eli Blumenthal, CNET© Provided by CNET T-Mobile's millimeter-wave 5G, left on the Galaxy S10 5G, is much faster than its low-band 5G network, right. Eli Blumenthal, CNET

This is a step up to be sure, but it is nowhere near the nearly 1Gbps speeds millimeter-wave networks like Verizon have delivered. It also doesn't compare to T-Mobile's own millimeter-wave, which downloaded at 280Mbps in lower Manhattan compared to download speeds of 66Mbps on 5G.

T-Mobile’s nationwide 600 MHz 5G network will launch on December 6th

  T-Mobile’s nationwide 600 MHz 5G network will launch on December 6th Joining the company’s existing short-range mmWave networkT-Mobile has also started rolling out its 5G network on a smaller scale with faster (but short-range) mmWave technology in a few cities, similar to Verizon. The 600 MHz half of the network looks to help make up for the shortcomings of mmWave networks, like the short range and difficulties of getting signals into buildings.

T - Mobile is the last major carrier to bring its 5 G network online, so just having access to faster mobile data doesn’t feel quite as revolutionary as it did a few months ago. Like Verizon, T - Mobile ’ s 5 G network is still in its early stages of development, and as such

T - Mobile is launching it ' s 5 G network for anyone with a 5 G compatible device. This upgrade will benefit 4G LTE customers as well as future 5 G customers. At 600Mhz, this is the lowest frequency It ' s worth keeping in mind that you'll need one of two, yet to be released phones to use this network .

In speed tests across the city, I found download speeds on 5G to often range between 20Mbps and 50Mbps, with some occasional peaks hitting above 100Mbps. While fine speeds, running identical tests on a T-Mobile Galaxy S10 5G that was on T-Mobile's 4G LTE network often saw the Galaxy's 4G service pulling down similar numbers. One key point was my ability to get it nearly everywhere I went. (Except in subway stations.)

Meanwhile, CNET's identical test unit in Maui crested 100Mbps seven times in 12 tests with Speedtest.net, peaking at 256Mbps downlink (and 230Mbps down through Fast.com). A the same time, the 4G control unit, a Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, hit a high of 131Mbps down. Other tests were much more pedestrian, with lows of 19Mbps down (there's that dead zone). The 5G logo, however, didn't waver.

a hand holding a sign© Provided by CNET
T-Mobile's new 5G network is here, we go hands on

These results speak to the state of 5G, which after many years of hype, finally turned into reality this year. But while 5G is finally being turned on, limited range, spotty coverage or limited speed boosts have meant this technology isn't quite ready for mainstream users who expect their cell coverage to generally work as advertised all the time.

T-Mobile's 5G network will go live on December 6th

  T-Mobile's 5G network will go live on December 6th T-Mobile will officially activate its 5G network on December 6th, the carrier announced today during a live stream dedicated to its upcoming merger with Sprint. According to CEO John Legere, 200 million customers will have access to the network on day one, with 5,000 cities and towns covered before the end of 2019. The company plans to market the initiative as "5G for Good," likely in an effort to drum up additional support for its merger with Sprint. That's because the launch is dependent on the merger going through since T-Mobile needs access to Sprint's spectrum to make such a wide initial rollout possible.

T - Mobile says it will overcome these challenges by augmenting the millimeter wave side of its 5 G network with low-band 600MHz spectrum. The latter won’t offer the same mind-blowing download rates, but low-band spectrum covers much more ground and can actually make it into buildings.

T - Mobile will turn on its 600 Mhz 5 G network that will cover most of the country. That ' s impressive, since most of the 5 G networks you've heard about Here ' s why you should wait before buying a 5 G phone today: Eventually, carriers are going to sell phones that support all the various 5 G technologies

T-Mobile's broader 5G network also represents a stark philosophical difference to its rivals. Verizon's network in New York, for comparison, was able to top 1Gbps outdoors in the city in our tests -- even if you lost the signal a block away. Sprint's midband 5G network was often able to perform much faster than T-Mobile's low-band 5G, but its deployments have been in only a handful of markets with no word on future expansion.

AT&T has not let regular users onto its high-speed millimeter-wave 5G network (the same flavor of 5G Verizon uses) in New York, though the carrier plans to launch a low-band 5G network this month in a handful of cities.

a hand holding a cell phone: T-Mobile's 5G network on the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren, left, compared to its 4G LTE network on the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G. Eli Blumenthal, CNET© Provided by CNET T-Mobile's 5G network on the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren, left, compared to its 4G LTE network on the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G. Eli Blumenthal, CNET

AT&T has said for users not to expect major speed differences between its 4G network (known now as 5GE) and the new low-band 5G network. CNET will have more comprehensive speed comparison tests when the network launches in New York.

In CNET's New York office where cell phone service has had trouble in the past, T-Mobile's 5G network had full service and reached download speeds of 12Mbps on Netflix's Fast.com testing site. In the same location, Sprint service on a Samsung Galaxy S10 5G had four bars of 5G and download speeds of 44Mbps while Verizon's LTE network on an iPhone downloaded at 1.8Mbps.

T-Mobile teases $15 5G plan and other post-merger initiatives

  T-Mobile teases $15 5G plan and other post-merger initiatives When, and if, it launches its 5G network on December 6th, T-Mobile will offer a new $15 per month prepaid 5G plan to customers. The plan will include a 2GB per month data allowance, in addition to unlimited talk and text. At $15, the plan is half the price of T-Mobile's current cheapest plan. For $25 per month, customers can upgrade to a plan with 5GB of monthly data. Additionally, T-Mobile says it will add 500MB of data to both plans every year for up to five years.At first glance, the two rate plans seem like a great offer, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

It ’ s how T - Mobile is planning to deliver nationwide 5 G by 2020. With this low-band, paired with more mmWave spectrum scattered in key areas If T - Mobile ’ s merger with Sprint succeeds, expect to see the New T - Mobile ’ s 5 G network deploy at lightning speed. It might not be worth an upgrade yet .

Is It Worth Upgrading To A 5 G Cellphone? 5 G phones should have a longer battery life than current handsets and offer faster data speeds, but in the short term, unless the user is based in one of the few 5 G testbeds that are running worldwide and their network supports it , the cellphone user will not be

Comparing 5G networks, YouTube and Netflix both opened quickly over 5G and T-Mobile's network actually outperformed Sprint's when it came to starting an episode of Stranger Things, though the difference between the two was minimal.

Indoors is actually one of the better aspects of T-Mobile's early 5G service, with speed on the OnePlus often besting what I was able to get in the same location with the Galaxy S10 5G that was on T-Mobile's 4G LTE network. That's not to say the speeds were game-changing, but the fact that they were even slightly better offers some encouraging reason for optimism.

Don't buy just yet

a hand holding a cellphone: T-Mobile's 5G network in Hawaii. Jessica Dolcourt, CNET© Provided by CNET T-Mobile's 5G network in Hawaii. Jessica Dolcourt, CNET

Even if it's largely symbolic, turning on 5G for 200 million people with T-Mobile is a big milestone since most people will have access to the service. Verizon's millimeter-wave network is only live in 18 cities (with the company previously saying it would be in 30 cities by the end of 2019) and Sprint is only live in nine.

AT&T's millimeter-wave network is live in 21 cities, but again, it won't let regular people onto it yet. The low-band network the company plans to launch this month will only initially cover "tens of millions" of people with the Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G being the only phone that will work with it.

T-Mobile's 5G network goes live ahead of schedule

  T-Mobile's 5G network goes live ahead of schedule Last month, T-Mobile promised its 5G network would go live in 5,000 cities and towns on December 6th -- if its merger with Sprint went through. That deal is not yet final, but today, a few days ahead of schedule, T-Mobile says it's launching its nationwide 5G network. The catch is that, for now, T-Mobile is offering 600 MHz "low-band" 5G. The network covers more than one million square miles, including many rural areas, and 200 million people. The "low-band" 5G won't be as fast as the 5G we've seen from carriers like Sprint and Verizon (Engadget's parent company), but it will have better range, so it shouldn't run into problems like not being able to travel through walls

5 G , a mobile networking technology so fast and powerful that it is causing a trade war, is very But it is to say that, based on our experience with 5 G , there is absolutely, positively no need to race out and buy a 5 G phone at the first opportunity. 5 G may well be compelling one day, and worth the upgrade .

T - Mobile was able to upgrade its existing 4G equipment to launch 5 G . But it ' s more important to have reliability." And over time, T - Mobile should be able to build faster speeds into its 5 G network . T - Mobile said Monday it is releasing two phones on December 6 — the OnePlus 7T Pro 5 G McLaren

So is T-Mobile's 5G network worth an upgrade? For most people, probably not. While the Note 10 Plus and OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren are impressive phones , buying them thinking you are future-proofing yourself is a fool's errand. The phones will work with T-Mobile's low-band 5G network and Sprint's midband 5G network, should the long-pending merger get approved, but they don't work with T-Mobile's millimeter-wave 5G that it has launched in six cities thus far.

a hand holding a cell phone: T-Mobile's low-band 5G network has arrived.  © Eli Blumenthal, CNET

T-Mobile's low-band 5G network has arrived.

It's the same problem that plagues the Galaxy S10 5G, which T-Mobile has been selling for months and works with the company's millimeter-wave network (and will work with Sprint's 5G spectrum) but not the low-band. Phones that work across all three versions of 5G are expected to come next year, and T-Mobile has been counting on getting Sprint's spectrum to be able to actually deliver on its 5G ambitions.

Even with this step, it is still early for 5G. Speeds, devices and coverage will all get better as things continue to pick up in 2020. Jumping in now will let you show your friends that your phone has a 5G icon, but it, for the most part, won't get you any real benefits a good 4G LTE device wouldn't already provide.

CNET Managing Editor Jessica Dolcourt contributed to this story.

AT&T turns on low-band 5G network in 10 markets across the country .
AT&T's 5G network is finally ready for regular consumers.Areas for the initial launch include Indianapolis, San Diego, San Francisco,  Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Birmingham, Alabama; Providence, Rhode Island; Rochester, New York and San Jose, California.

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