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T-Mobile’s calling out “Nationwide” 5G

  • 25 November 2020
  • 42 replies
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T-Mobile’s calling out “Nationwide” 5G
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Everyone’s been talking about 5G. But if you talk the talk, can you walk the walk? T-Mobile’s been transparent about 5G since introducing the layer cake concept in 2018. It’s time to explain why T-Mobile’s 5G can compete with the other carriers and call out the myths surrounding “nationwide” coverage.

T-Mobile’s 5G

Building out 5G coverage for all T-Mobile customers is always ongoing. The foundation starts with doing right by customers. Making false claims and only providing a fraction of customers with 5G isn’t doing right by them. The T-Mobile 5G network is constantly improving and working towards reaching EVERYONE.

How?

The three layered strategy. Low-band covers larger land area for more reliability. Mid-Band covers a broad area balancing speed and range. High-Band gives super-fast data speeds for smaller areas.

Mid-band is already reaching 410 cities and towns and will reach 100 million people by the end of this year! Speeds in mid-band areas are averaging 300Mbps and peaking around 1 Gbps.

Imagine what you can do with those speeds! So what say you? If you had to choose one 5G phone, what would it be?

5G phones

iPhone 12

Galaxy S20 5G

Pixel 4a (5G)

OnePlus 8T+ 5G

Fact-Checking

Check out this video breakdown for more info about 5G coverage and comment below with your feedback.

 


42 replies

Userlevel 4
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Well… Looks like T-Mobile’s left hand doesn’t meet its right hand… again in SLOCal.

T-Mobile has not acknowledged the issue in ‘writing’  per se, but their Office of Executive Management has supported that their ‘5G’ site in San Simeon, CA (Vista Del Mar) has ‘capacity issues’, and their is no plan to fix it.  Town population 400.

Typically, with AWS B4 20x20 + B71 10x10 and 5g n71, I should be easily hitting 300Mbps.  Peaking at 1Mbps is awful.  Something tells me they only have a handful of T1’s or ‘business ethernet’ setup.

The site is on the Motel 6.

This is the area: https://www.google.com/maps/@35.6117911,-121.1428829,3a,75y,306.52h,103.69t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sI-MAk4LCc2rSzwDAUKyOaQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

 

 

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They who live in glass houses……. T-Mobile’s been guilty of over-selling their 5G. Hence all the questions asking, “Why is 5G slower than LTE?”

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I’d pick the One Plus 8T (similar to my One Plus 8 5G)

There’s a few bits that T-Mobile neglects to mention in the ‘nationwide’ 5G statment.

  1.  T-Mobile’s ‘nationwide’ 5G excludes coverage to many 5G devices in some locations.  I.E. Those locations where T-Mobile has deployed 5G SA, many devices such as LG Velvet will only obtain LTE (Band 12).  Some devices such as One Plus should function with 5G.  They’re both low band, however, T-Mobile and their handset vendors didn’t provide 5G SA and 5G NSA… but only 5G NSA, which requires B2/B4 LTE on T-Mobile to obtain .. 5G at all.
  2. Until ‘all’ (or at least ‘most’) LTE sites carry 5G service, many areas on 5G may actually end up with poorer performance.  Eg.  At home ‘if’ (when) my phone ends up on 5G SA, speeds are ~1-2Mbps.  on 5G NSA, performance is all over the place from 30Mbps to 150Mbps.  On LTE only, speeds are ~80-140Mbps.
  3. T-Mobile still needs to deploy some of its ‘rural’ service, where AT&T and Verizon actually have service, but T-Mobile (and former Sprint) do not, or its coverage covers ~1/10th of a community.
Userlevel 4
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I agree with your essential points… T-Mobile 5G in San Francisco has much to be desired.  Sadly, many locations are like this.

I can’t even get 2G or 3G - never mind 5G - service is nonexistent

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They who live in glass houses……. T-Mobile’s been guilty of over-selling their 5G. Hence all the questions asking, “Why is 5G slower than LTE?”

Yes it is slower. I keep my phone on Lte. 

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@formercanuck

Alas, crowdsourced maps are not accurate.

UPDATE:

T-Mobile called me in response my FCC Complaint, and promised to get back to me with accurate 5G information for San Francisco. :fingers_crossed:

Userlevel 4
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This should get interesting…. BBB complaint literally fell on deaf ears.  It was take it or leave it.  Sent to FCC.  Engineering ticket has been reopened.

Userlevel 5
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Hey! Put the Samsung Note 20 Ultra on the list….PLEASE! :blush:

Userlevel 4
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They who live in glass houses……. T-Mobile’s been guilty of over-selling their 5G. Hence all the questions asking, “Why is 5G slower than LTE?”


You.mean like this… same location, 2mins apart.

 

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T-Mobile has finally enabled 5G in San Francisco. I was on a phone call this morning when it happened, and my Pixel 4a (5G) phone dropped the call when it switched to 5G.

This far I've only done a limited amount of data speed testing, and not in a terribly good signal location. It's better than LTE, but only modestly; e.g., 6.48 Mbps down on 5G vs 4.35 Mbps down on LTE. That's probably because the current T-Mobile 5G deployment here is NSA/DSS (non-standalone, dynamic spectrum sharing with LTE). It should be a lot faster when T-Mobile enables SA (standalone) with the acquired Sprint spectrum.
 

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5G sucks in San Francisco:

 

Userlevel 4
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There’s a whole bunch of things mentioned that don’t all go together…

  1.  Phone dropped the call when it switched to 5G.  VoNR is not yet supported, meaning that the 5G indicator may be on… but your call is still 4G LTE.  Its more than likely that your call dropped for one reason or another, and 5G showed up.
  2. Testing in a limited signal area with 5G (NSA) can actually be worse than 4G LTE itself.  I have this often occur.  Weak 5G signal + strong LTE signal = ‘either’ slightly better performance OR much worse.
  3. 6.48Mbps vs. 4.35Mbps is not a significant bump.  Being in San Fran, there’s a lot more people, and with the only 5G channel being n71 ~20MHz on a handful of sites - it will saturate quickly.  Urban areas is where low band usage isn’t always optimal.   SA probably won’t help much here, but I may be wrong.  In theory, if your device supports 5G SA, then you would probably be on 5G SA where LTE is saturated.  I have this occur where I am at times.
  4. 5G SA vs. NSA typically gives a boost to existing under most locations.  Eg.  At home, 5G SA (n71) gives ~4-5Mbps.  5G NSA (n71 + LTE) gives me +110Mbps. 
  5. When I’m in an area with strong n71 SA, i can peak around 150Mbps… typically only ~70Mbps due to the amount of 5G devices now on the market/in the area, while with 5G NSA in those same areas, its typically +300Mbps to 400Mbps, and ~200-250Mbps on LTE.  In the few areas with n41 spectrum, that number will reach past 700Mbps on 5G NSA.  SA’s main advantage right now is in lower latency, typically being around 10-13ms vs 18-30ms.  More locations need to be deployed before 5G becomes ‘useful’ - at least in urban areas.
  6. T-Mobile doesn't use DSS… Verizon does.  NSA is not DSS.  NSA just means ‘requires LTE band as an anchor’ IE. carrier aggregate of LTE of band x with 5G of band y.  DSS is effectively a form of time slicing of service between LTE and NR of the same spectrum.  Its not super efficient, but works in a pinch.
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  1. I disagree. My phone doesn’t drop calls. It was not just a coincidence. Network switch to NSA 5G is non-trivial.
  2. Signal strength is the same. With NSA, 5G is coming from the LTE tower. That NSA 5G is often slower than LTE is a known issue, especially where wideband LTE has been deployed. And I’ve seen the same results in other locations.
  3. SA 5G is not yet deployed in San Francisco. When that happens, using the Sprint spectrum, 5G is expected to improve dramatically.
  4. “Your mileage may vary.” In other words, performance will differ in different areas. My performance comments apply only to San Francisco.
  5. All other things being equal, SA 5G performs much better than NSA 5G, as confirmed by many technical articles.

I've now run a lot more tests, and 5G is so often slower than LTE (on top of consuming more battery power) that I've reconfigured my phone to prefer LTE until T-Mobile makes 5G more compelling here, probably with SA 5G on the Sprint spectrum. I'm disappointed, but not terribly surprised, because a T-Mobile network tech told me that they have often needed to do that.

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  1. Disagree or not… the ‘5G indicator’ doesn’t always mean that you’re using 5G service.  Its more of the 4G LTE station supporting 5G NSA AND your device’s 5G radio sensing NR service.  
  2. That will vary.  Not all 5G NSA signals are from the same tower as LTE.  Eg.  I have a local site that has 5G n71 (and n41) ~2 miles away, and an LTE only (no B41/B71/n41/n71) site 2000’ away.  Service picks up .. both.  How can I be sure ?   Force to LTE only - and cellmapper/etc. ID it.  When forced to NR only - it points to the same ID as the site ~2 miles away.
  3. SA 5G n71 is deployed on any site that support NSA n71.  n41 on former Sprint spectrum may not be deployed yet in your area.  I also can’t say whether or not it will be SA or NSA.  5G NSA n41 will also improve service ‘dramatically’, as it has wide amount of spectrum.  Currently, not 100% of former Sprint spectrum is used for 5G.  ~40MHz in SoCal (out of ~100MHz?) is used for LTE on B41.
  4. Not referring so much as to San Francisco performance, but more of the SA/NSA comments.  Ie.  60MHz of n71 should be good for ~450Mbps.  aggregate that with ~40MHz of LTE, and you’re pushing 700Mbps.  In general, n41 (and even B41) will help out San Fran areas, as urban areas need more of the mid band for spectrum reuse.
  5. All things being equal… it does.  The problem is 20MHz of SA can’t compete with 20MHz NSA + 45MHz of LTE, especially when 5G is deployed only on a handful of sites.  Convert ALL of the LTE to SA, and you’re right.  San Francisco doesn’t have that deployed.  Few areas have n41+n71 on all sites.

I will agree with it probably being slower in San Fran due to few sites deployed, and n71 at 20MHz is not enough to do much - its more of a T-Mobile advertising message of ‘We have 5G’…   Having ~5 sites in San Fran isn’t enough capacity for any carrier on any spectrum.  Having more sites on n71 and n41 will solve it.  I suspect that it will take time in San Fran, as its NIMBY/regulatory nightmare.

Userlevel 4
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Similarly… 5G .. or is it.  Lastly, 5G NSA  B2LTE, B4 LTE, B71 LTE and n41 NSA

 

 

 

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1. I'm aware the 5G indicator does not necessarily mean that it's actually using 5G at any given time.

2. I know the locations of the few 5G towers in San Francisco.

3. I'm not guessing. I've discussed the 5G deployment with a T-Mobile network tech.

4. My speeds speak for themselves. At the end of the day that's all that matters.

Userlevel 4
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  1.  Then your 5G indicator shouldn’t cause a call to drop.
  2.  Good.  
  3. Then you know when T-Mobile will deploy more n71 and n41.
  4. Yes… 
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@formercanuck 

Please don't put words in my mouth. What likely caused my call to drop was T-Mobile switching on NSA 5G, not the 5G indicator on my phone. Regardless, it's not an important issue. I mentioned it only because it drew my attention to the first appearance of 5G on this phone.

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Userlevel 4
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You can see that the NSA 5G site is weak - at -107dBm.  Not from the same site as LTE B4/66.

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@formercanuck 

No, that's a different tower.

Look at all the images.

Userlevel 4
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These are also different cells.  LTE is a ½ mile NR is about 2

 

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@formercanuck 

The cell I'm connected to supports both LTE and 5G (DSS).

Userlevel 4
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Different of supports both… and is transmitting both.   These are 2 different sites.

 

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