T-Mobile has delayed the launch of its 5G network until the second half of 2019. Originally slated to go live in the first half of the year, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray explained to CNET that T-Mo had hoped that phone companies and chipset makers would have 5G devices compatible with 600MHz spectrum ready, but it turns out that that's not the case.
T-Mobile plans to use both millimeter wave (mmWave) and 600MHz spectrum for its 5G network. mmWave offers faster speeds but smaller range, while 600MHz gets you better coverage but slower top-end speeds. T-Mobile has said that it plans to have nationwide 5G coverage in 2020, and it'll use 600MHz spectrum to do that.
While T-Mo will sell the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G this summer, that phone will work on T-Mo's mmWave spectrum. Ray says that T-Mobile may not even market the benefits of the device since its mmWave deployment is so limited.
This news is likely disappointing for some T-Mobile customers, but it's likely that T-Mobile doesn't want to advertise its 5G network and 5G smartphones only to have customers find limited 5G coverage because they can only use T-Mo's mmWave spectrum. Instead, T-Mobile will wait until the second half of the year for its formal 5G launch, when 5G phones capable of accessing 600MHz spectrum and T-Mobile's broader 5G coverage will be available.
UPDATE: A T-Mobile spokesperson says that T-Mo's 5G network is not actually delayed. Today's report is in reference to T-Mobile's 600MHz spectrum, and 5G devices with 600MHz support aren't expected until later this year. T-Mo does plan on launching 5G on other spectrum bands in the first half of 2019, though, as soon as 5G devices are available to customers.
Sorry, Roger. That's wrong. We've always said we'd launch when phones are available and they will be in H1. H2 is just when it gets more meaningful ... but there's no delay and no change of plans.
— Neville (@NevilleRay) February 25, 2019