T-Mobile Says It Has Achieved Its 2021 Target Of Covering 200 Million People With Faster 5G

Sarah Tew / CNET

T-Mobile’s lead over mid-range 5G has increased. On Monday, the operator announced that it had reached its 2021 target of covering 200 million people with this faster cellular network, six weeks ahead of its previously announced vague “end of the year” target.

The milestone is notable because it gives T-Mobile the ability to boast that its faster version of 5G is now available “nationwide.” The Federal Communications Commission describes a national cellular network as one that covers 200 million people.

Rivals AT&T and Verizon have similar plans to launch their own faster mid-range 5G networks and the three domestic providers have spent billions of dollars to acquire new wireless spectrum known as the FCC Band C this year.

AT&T and Verizon had planned to start launching these respective services in parts of some cities in the United States in 2021, but a recent objection from the United States Federal Aviation Administration on security concerns for flights led everyone to delay deployment until Jan. 5.

Prior to the FAA’s objection, Verizon previously said it was targeting covering 100 million people with its 5G midband by March. AT&T was targeting covering between 70 and 75 million people by the end of 2022, to reach over 100 million by the “beginning” of 2023.

T-Mobile said Monday that 80% of its customers are now covered by its extended midrange 5G network, what it calls “Ultra Capacity 5G.” The operator has previously said it is aiming for average download speeds of 400 Mbps on this network, which would be a noticeable improvement over the 4G LTE-like performance of its 5G low-band network (what it calls ” Extended Range 5G ”). Although slower, this latter low-band network now reaches 308 million people.

Read more: From 5G Ultra Wideband to 5G Ultra Capacity, we break down the many names of 5G

As for its next steps, in March the carrier said it plans to cover more than 250 million people with mid-range 5G by the end of 2022, with a goal of reaching 90% of Americans by the end of 2023.

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