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T-Mobile slows US 5G launch, postpones some frequencies until late 2019 [u]

The U.S. branch of T-Mobile is delaying its 5G launch from the first half of 2019 until the second, owing to a lack of compatible phones, its CTO said in a Monday interview. [Updated with correction by T-Mobile]

T-Mobile on iPhone XS



The hope was originally that phone makers would already be in a position to ship devices with 600-megahertz band support, Neville Ray explained to CNet. One of the first 5G phones, the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, relies on higher-frequency bands that mostly limit it to AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint.

T-Mobile's focus on a lower band is deliberate, since while the millimeter wave technology used by AT&T and Verizon has faster speeds, its range is short. T-Mobile has a small number of millimeter wave towers.

"You can't go to a U.S. consumer and charge them a big premium and it works on three street corners," Ray commented.

One of the carrier's rivals, Sprint, will likewise skip millimeter wave when it deploys 5G in May. Even without it, devices may be able hit speeds as high as 430 megabits per second — considerably faster than most 4G connections. Sprint CEO Michel Combes said that if a merger with T-Mobile goes through, Sprint will be able to deploy 5G faster and with wider coverage. That deal faces opposition from parties concerned about shrinking competition in the U.S. telecoms industry.

Apple isn't expected to add 5G to iPhones or iPads until 2020. That's probably because of its ongoing legal battles with Qualcomm, slow modem development at Intel, and the fact that general 5G coverage should remain small by the time this fall's iPhones are ready.

5G is considered crucial to the advancement of technologies like self-driving cars and augmented reality, both of which Apple is known to be working on.

Update: T-Mobile tells AppleInsider that the CNET piece is inaccurate, and that only its 600-megahertz deployment is coming in the second half of 2019. 5G on other bands is still coming in the first half.

"Everything is still on track as originally planned," a spokesman said.