T-Mobile has today shared an update on its 5G plans and pushed back the schedule for bringing the next generation cellular standard to 30 US cities.


Update: There’s a bit of contention between Neville Ray and CNET’s Roger Cheng on T-Mobile’s 5G rollout. Ray says that there’s been no delay of T-Mobile’s plans, but rather there won’t be devices available to take advantage of the 600MHz spectrum 5G with the carrier until the second half of the year.

Cheng responded by updating the original article, but noted that Ray said the 5G experience won’t be great in the first half of the year and that the carrier won’t be promoting 5G until later this year.

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As reported by CNET, T-Mobile’s CTO, Neville Ray, shared in an interview today that the carrier won’t be rolling out its 5G service widely until the second half of 2019. Previously, the company said it would deploy 5G to the 30 cities in the first half of the year.

Ray said he had hoped at the time that handset manufacturers and chipset makers would be ready to build a phone that taps into the lower-band 600 megahertz spectrum, which it’s using to power 5G across a large swath of the country.

Samsung is set to release its first 5G smartphone, the Galaxy S10 5G, but it’s won’t be able to take advantage of T-Mobile’s 5G spectrum.

While AT&T and Verizon will likely beat T-Mobile to market with widespread 5G service, Ray said the company wasn’t concerned as both competitors are focusing on the millimeter wave spectrum which offers a limited range.

T-Mobile on the other hand has focused building out its 5G network with lower-band spectrum which should offer improved coverage for users, but won’t be able to match the top speeds of millimeter wave.

The delay also underscores the complexity of building a 5G network, and the bets companies must make on what kind of spectrum they can use. Verizon and AT&T initially championed millimeter wave spectrum because it can deliver super-high speeds, but with limited range. T-Mobile opted for lower-band spectrum that has slower peak speaks, but better coverage.

Just today Sprint announced four cities that will receive 5G service by the middle of the year, however, it won’t use millimeter wave, but rather mid-band spectrum.

AT&T shared that Minneapolis and Chicago will be the next cities to receive 5G by the end of the year, with 21 cities planned in total. Last week Verizon said that it will rollout its 5G service to 21 cities by 2020, but hasn’t shared specifics about which ones.

As for Apple, iPhones with 5G compatibility are expected to arrive in 2020.

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