T-Mobile US talks up its 5G SA network, 5G data usage, AR and robotics applications

T-Mobile US Vice President of Technology Neville Ray provided an overview of the carrier’s 5G network during his “Building 5G for All” keynote presentation at the Wireless Infrastructure Associations (WIA) Connect X event.  The association represents the nation’s cell tower owners and others in the wireless industry.

Ray said T-Mobile’s 5G standalone (5G SA) network, deployed nationwide using its 600 MHz spectrum, is “the future of wireless.” He said applications like connected vehicles, industrial robotics, mixed reality, and “supercharged IoT…can all be built on this foundation. It gives us a massive opportunity to work with partners on developing advanced 5G services.”

“We are seeing incredible growth in 5G data usage,” Ray said, referring to the average data usage among customers on T-Mobile’s new Magenta Max unlimited data plan, the operator’s most expensive unlimited data plan. Ray also reiterated many of the data points on Magenta Max that T-Mobile published last month. He said that T-Mobile’s Magenta Max customers typically stream 39% more video, use 36% more data for social media and use twice as much mobile hotspot data than other T-Mobile customers.  “Our customers love this plan,” Ray said.

T-Mobile’s five-year, $60 billion investment into its 5G network seems to be paying off for the telco. The effort involves building thousands of new cell towers around the country in part to allow T-Mobile to broadcast speedy 5G signals on the 2.5GHz mid-band spectrum it acquired from Sprint. T-Mobile says that over 50% of its Magenta Max customers use a 5G smartphone.

T-Mo is planning to use 5G to offer fixed wireless access (FWA) to homes and offices. T-Mobile this week said it would reduce the price of its fixed wireless service by $10 per month in a direct challenge to wired broadband ISPs.

Furthermore, Ray said T-Mobile is also working to develop new 5G businesses around augmented reality (AR) services and other advanced offerings directed at 5G-based enterprise applications and use cases.  To progress that initiative, T-Mo has partnered with companies working on video-streaming drones, with Sarcos Robotics on industrial robots, and with Fisk University. The latter project involves pre-med and biology students using a 5G-enabled headset to study human cadavers.

T-Mo is also working with Taqtile and Timberline Communications Inc., giving Timberline’s field technician headsets that can support instructional AR-overlays and other relevant content, and remote support from experts. The techs, in turn, use the headsets, connected to T-Mobile’s 5G network, to perform maintenance and other work on T-Mobile’s 5G network.

“AR and VR applications are going to transform virtually every industry,” according to Senior Director of Network Technology Erin Raney. “We are so excited to see how T-Mobile’s 5G network with that low latency and high bandwidth is going to fuel these great innovations.”

In a March 2021 blog post, T-Mo’s John Saw, EVP of Advanced & Emerging Technologies  wrote:

Augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) technology is a key area of focus at T-Mobile for 5G use case development and it is applicable to so many industries from healthcare to manufacturing, agriculture and more. Enterprises today have complex machinery, a shortage of skilled workers, and customers with no patience for downtime, making sophisticated training and technical support capabilities more important than ever. With T-Mobile’s low-latency, Ultra Capacity 5G network, we are seeing businesses boost productivity and speed as technicians use augmented reality for immersive training, and then to collaborate and fix problems fast.

Taqtile, a recent graduate of the 5G Open Innovation Lab co-founded by T-Mobile, is a company doing fascinating work building AR solutions for frontline workers. Timberline Communications Inc. (TCI), a communications infrastructure company, is using Taqtile’s AR solution running on T-Mobile 5G to perform cell site upgrades and maintenance on our network. With Taqtile, TCI’s technicians use AR headsets to view virtual service checklists and troubleshoot using remote assistance. AR solutions such as this enable frontline workers to improve their skills and perform complex tasks from anywhere exploring objects such as machinery in 3D from all angles.

T-Mobile quarterly all-hands team meeting using holographic telepresence


WIA recently joined the National Spectrum Consortium (NSC) to increase industry collaboration on the research and development of 5G and 5G-based technologies.

“In order to effectively address our country’s most pressing needs for wireless infrastructure, we must deliver unified solutions. WIA is looking forward to working with the Consortium to transform communications and bring next generation technology to our defense sector and communities across the U.S.,” said WIA CTO Dr. Rikin Thakker.






One thought on “T-Mobile US talks up its 5G SA network, 5G data usage, AR and robotics applications

  1. T-Mobile notches 4.95 Gbps on 5G standalone network

    T-Mobile is claiming a new first for standalone 5G. The operator used a combo of 2.5 GHz and mmWave spectrum to reach nearly 5 Gbps on its commercial SA 5G network.

    T-Mobile said it’s the world’s first New Radio Dual Connectivity (NR DC) data call on a commercial standalone 5G network, which resulted in download speeds of 4.95 Gbps. The data session took place in the September-October timeframe on a single site in Southern California, utilizing 100 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum and 800 MHz of mmWave, according to a T-Mobile spokesperson. Ericsson provided the network gear, and the call was conducted on a test device, the spokesperson said.

    The mmWave portion used spectrum in the 39 GHz band. T-Mobile has long touted a layer cake strategy for 5G but put far less emphasis on mmWave than competitors like Verizon in early days – instead focusing on low-band 600 MHz for coverage and now 2.5 GHz since it later amassed a trove of mid-band spectrum from Sprint that provides a mix of coverage and capacity.

    At the FCC’s third millimeter wave auction T-Mobile spent around $931 million to buy licenses in the 47 GHz and 39 GHz bands. Limited deployments, for example to boost capacity before big events like the Super Bowl LV in Tampa earlier this year or in the major market of Las Vegas, have used 39 GHz. Other locations like New York and Los Angeles have used 28 GHz.

    While T-Mobile holds the bragging rights of first operator to deploy a nationwide 5G SA network at scale (and still the only U.S. carrier to do so) it hasn’t made much noise about impacts since the rollout.

    RELATED: How’s 5G standalone doing in the U.S.?

    During third quarter earnings results this week, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert made a short mention of 5G SA efforts and called out enterprise interest in advanced capabilities.

    “We’ve already seen an increase in our win share for traditional postpaid services and we’re well positioned to capture advanced 5G services with the most widely built out 5G network and the only stand-alone 5G core, which is exactly why many large enterprises are in active trials with T-Mobile for advanced capabilities like mobile edge compute and private networks,” Sievert said. “And let me remind you that these advanced 5G services represent upside to our plan.”

    The recent test focused on throughput although advanced capabilities like network slicing or ultra-low latency tend to be a focus of standalone 5G benefits, rather than straight speed gains. For 5G speeds, like in T-Mobile’s recent data call, spectrum resources and technologies like carrier aggregation or dual connectivity seem to get more attention. That was illustrated in recent Opensignal testing that showed T-Mobile’s 5G service using additional 2.5 GHz spectrum boosted user speeds significantly – but standalone 5G wasn’t the main driver.

    T-Mobile until this point has largely focused on 600 MHz for users connected to the SA 5G network, who actually saw slower speeds than those on non-standalone (NSA) 5G which also incorporate 4G LTE mid-band frequencies to support 5G, according to Opensignal.

    T-Mobile and U.S. carriers AT&T and Verizon all started initial 5G deployments in NSA mode, which helps get 5G up and running faster by having the option to still lean on 4G.

    “Now, we can see that the 2.5 GHz band is predominantly used with NSA and so SA is not the key reason for the improvement in 5G speeds (although it likely does continue to have other benefits),” wrote Opensignal in an October 27 analysis.

    Still, 5G experience improved as latencies dropped with help from the SA core and network reach expanded with the rollout, according to an earlier report.

    “T-Mobile appears to have initially targeted its use of SA 5G to boost the reach of its 5G network, and therefore used its 600 MHz band for SA 5G — a low band that generally propagates further compared to higher bands like its 2.5 GHz band, but doesn’t allow for the same speeds,” Opensignal concluded in a February report on the operator’s 5G SA performance.

    However, as T-Mobile’s most recent test shows, a mix of 2.5 GHz and mmWave with SA 5G dual connectivity can deliver ultra-fast results.


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