T-Mobile Going Big on Mobile 5G

T-Mobile expanded on its plans for 5G today by announcing that it will build out 5G-based mobile networks to 30 cities this year, including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Las Vegas.

T-Mobile has already announced plans to deploy a national 5G network by 2020.

T-Mobile, which timed its 5G network rollout announcement with this week’s Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, likewise said it plans to offer mobile services on the first wave of smartphones that support 5G “early next year.”

That’s a jab at AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which have outlined initial plans to support “mobile” using puck-like router devices that can serve as nomadic 5G-powered hotspots that can connect to laptops, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices that don’t yet have 5G radios.

Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s chairman, president and CEO, referenced plans involving portable 5G hotspots a few weeks ago. Ronan Dunne, EVP and group president of Verizon Wireless, express similar plans in an interview this week with Bloomberg. Though Dunne expects some 5G handhelds to come out in 2019, “If there’s anything available in 2018, it’s more likely to be a hotspot,” he said.

RELATED: AT&T and Mobile 5G: The ‘Puck’ Starts Here

John Legere, T-Mobile’s president and CEO, chided the plans of his mobile service rivals in the company’s announcement (“It’s a puck?! You gotta be pucking kidding me!”) and did so as well on Twitter:

30 cities and #WeWontStop there! @TMobile promises to give customers the mobile 5G experience they want. The Duopoly’s attempts at 5G includes fixed routers & pucks. WHAT A JOKE. Real 5G will be mobile. The future of 5G is @TMobile! https://t.co/Ft88JcB9Sn

— John Legere (@JohnLegere) February 27, 2018

The idea, T-Mobile, said is to use 4G and 5G simultaneously, as it moves ahead in lighting up 5G capabilities in its low-band (600 MHz) spectrum and plans to build out 5G on millimeter wave spectrum later this year.

The company referenced “5G-ready” equipment such as the LG V30 smartphone, that supports 600 MHz LTE and other spectrum bands from T-Mobile, and new equipment from Ericsson that supports both 4G and 5G.

T-Mobile said it also expects to deploy 25,000 small cells and turn up LAA (Licensed Assisted Access) for more capacity while “paving the way for 5G.”

“Every dollar we invest in our network is a 5G dollar. All the LTE Advanced work we do is 5G work, and we’re leading the industry with the most advanced LTE network in the country,” Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s CTO, said in a statement.