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T-Mobile Fills in the Gaps in its Mid-Band 5G Network

T-Mobile is activating large swaths of fast mid-band 5G coverage across the country, primarily in rural areas. This new coverage is the result of the FCC's Auction 108 for 2.5 GHz spectrum, which concluded in late 2022. The newly-acquired spectrum covers 80 million people, and T-Mobile is lighting up 5G service in that band covering 60 million people over the next few days. 2.5 GHz, also known as band 41, is already the backbone of T-Mobile's 5G network, offering the most bandwidth of any sub-6 GHz band, which is why T-Mobile brands it as "Ultra Capacity 5G". As a mid-band frequency, it also offers a good balance of fast data speeds and good physical reach. T-Mobile already owned licenses for this band and operated 5G service with it across much of the country. But the 2.5 GHz band was originally licensed in an unusual way that left many geographic gaps.

Auction 108 aimed to fix that, and T-Mobile forked over $304 million to the FCC for licenses covering the gaps in its mid-band 5G network. The affected rural areas may have had 5G service before, but only in other frequency bands that don't offer as much bandwidth, resulting in relatively slow data speeds.

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