T-Mobile has activated its standalone 5G network across the United States, boasting that it is the first wireless carrier in the world to hit this milestone. Unlike current 5G networks, which build upon existing 4G networks, T-Mobile’s 5G network is built upon standalone architecture (SA). According to T-Mobile, this move expands the company’s 5G to more than 7,500 cities and around 250 million people, a 30-percent coverage increase.
T-Mobile celebrated the launch of its nationwide SA 5G network with a drone-based light show in North Dakota (see the video below). The carrier says that with this expansion, its 5G was made available in another 2,000 or so markets, including smaller cities and towns that previously missed out on the network.
This means 5G should penetrate more deeply into buildings and pave the way for the kind of connectivity anticipated by the public, facilitating increased Internet of Things usage in homes, businesses, and by cities. Talking about this, T-Mobile said as part of its expansion announcement:
SA, especially when coupled with core network slicing in the future, will lead to an environment where transformative applications are made possible — things like connected self-driving vehicles, supercharged IoT, real-time translation … and things we haven’t even dreamed of yet. In SA areas, T-Mobile engineers have already seen up to a 40% improvement in latency during testing, and that is just the beginning of what can be done with Standalone 5G.
Put simply, 5G offered on non-standalone network architecture involved the 600Mhz 5G mixing with the mid-band LTE, ultimately limiting the 5G signal to the reach of mid-band LTE. With a standalone architecture, the 5G signal is not limited in this way, enabling a single tower to cover hundreds of square miles with connectivity. By activating its SA 5G network, T-Mobile says it now covers 1.3 million square miles with this next-generation mobile broadband service.