During a livestream today, T-Mobile announced an official launch date for its national 5G service — December 6, 2019 — which will rely upon low-frequency 600MHz radio signals and new 5G devices to bring higher-speed service to 200 million customers on day one. Thanks to the initiative, which has been in the buildout process for a year, the carrier expects to have a basic blanket of 5G coverage in 5,000 cities and towns by the end of 2019.
T-Mobile previously confirmed that accessing 5G on its national 600MHz network will require one of two new devices: Samsung’s Galaxy Note10+ 5G, or a OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren, both specifically customized for the carrier’s network. Similar devices released by Samsung and OnePlus for other carriers — including Sprint, which T-Mobile is in the process of merging with — will apparently not be able to access 5G on T-Mobile’s 600MHz towers.
While each major U.S. carrier has announced plans for a national 5G network, their launches have all been heavily caveated for different reasons. Rival Verizon has launched short-distance millimeter wave 5G for consumers in a handful of cities, while AT&T has debuted millimeter wave “5G+” in smaller parts of over 20 cities, but solely for business users. T-Mobile has released one device with support for high-speed millimeter wave 5G in a small collection of major cities, but promised to cover the entire U.S. with a slower version of 5G quickly, adding more and faster 5G towers throughout 2020.
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