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T-Mobile teases standalone 5G launch this quarter

T-Mobile says it’s hard at work getting ready to light up standalone (SA) 5G this quarter, having completed a standalone 5G data session on a multi-vendor radio and core network, but it’s mum about any further details. “Standalone 5G will expand our coverage and bring with it improved latency and faster uploads,” wrote T-Mobile President of Technology Neville Ray in a blog post. “It will also pave the way for applications that require real-time responses and massive connectivity such as mobile augmented and virtual reality, cloud gaming, smart factories and meters and even connected vehicles.”

T-Mobile didn’t provide any further details, declining to answer questions from Fierce about the extent of its SA rollout or when it expects to have a full commercial deployment.

Earlier, T-Mobile said it’s working with Cisco, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, OnePlus and Qualcomm as partners on its path to deploying SA 5G.

All the legacy U.S. wireless operators started their 5G deployments using the non-standalone (NSA) version of the 5G standard, which relies on LTE. Dish Network, which was set up as a fourth facilities-based carrier as part of the Sprint/T-Mobile merger, has no legacy network of its own and is setting forth with a standalone 5G network from the get-go.

Verizon earlier this month touted the completion of a successful end-to-end data session over its new 5G network standalone core. Verizon said it expects to start moving traffic on to the new core in the second half of 2020, with full commercialization in 2021.

Kyle Malady, EVP of Global Networks and CTO at Verizon, said during Fierce’s virtual Blitz event on Monday that Verizon is working hard in the labs and out in the field to deploy the standalone core, which unlocks a lot of the futuristic capabilities of 5G such as network slicing.

“The whole 5G strategy is kind of a puzzle and we keep adding pieces into the puzzle as we go,” he said, adding that soon, all the pieces will come together. The standalone core also ties into Verizon’s mobile edge compute strategy.

“The SA core is very important, it brings all the features and we’re very happy with the partners we’ve chosen and the progress we’re making both in the lab and out in the field,” Malady said.

T-Mobile Home Internet update

In his blog today, T-Mobile’s Ray boasted about T-Mobile’s spectrum position and noted that it already holds more low and mid-band spectrum than AT&T and Verizon combined.

“Over time, we will also be phasing out legacy technologies to free up even more spectrum nationwide for LTE and 5G,” he said. “Looking ahead, we can do so much more with that capacity.” T-Mobile already began to expand its home broadband pilot. Starting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it’s opened up the program to non-T-Mobile customers for the first time. T-Mobile said it's is gearing up to offer T-Mobile Home Internet in more than 50% of U.S. zip codes, including in rural areas where home broadband is slow yet expensive.

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