T-Mobile 5G Coverage and Plans
This last year bore witness to the most groundbreaking advancement yet in wireless technology—the introduction of 5G. And on December 2nd, 2019, T-Mobile became the first carrier to roll out a 5G network from coast to coast.
So does T-Mobile have 5G where you live? And what do you need to do to take advantage of this revolutionary tech? Here’s what you need to know about T-Mobile’s 5G coverage, plans, network speeds, and more.
T-Mobile 5G Coverage & Availability
For now, T-Mobile can claim to be the only carrier to take 5G nationwide. It’s currently available in over 5,000 U.S. locations, and the company plans to extend its reach to 200 million Americans over the next year.
5G technology is compatible with existing 4G infrastructure, enabling T-Mobile to add 5G radios and antennas to its existing towers. T-Mobile’s 5G signal operates at 600 MHz, which the carrier claims offers a 20% boost over 4G LTE speeds. Customers can generally expect initial download speeds between 30 Mbps to 100 Mbps, as T-Mobile expands its coverage and enhances its towers for higher-frequency access.
Speeds on T-Mobile 5G
|Frequency spectrum||700-1900 MHz||600 MHz-39 GHz|
|Average download speeds||9-47 Mbps||30-100 Mbps|
Compared to its 4G LTE speeds, the 30 Mbps to 100 Mbps you get with 5G isn’t a huge increase. 4G technology uses a similar spectrum as T-Mobile’s low-band 5G spectrum; therefore, you may not notice much of a difference between the two networks.
Why is this the case? In order to offer nationwide 5G coverage, T-Mobile relies on low-band radio waves with the widest availability within the 5G spectrum. While these waves are able to reach much farther than higher-frequency waves that other carriers are using, they’re also the slower than the lightning-fast millimeter waves that Verizon and AT&T use. So don’t expect to see the highly-touted, lightning-fast capabilities of 5G right out of the gate—at least not yet.
T-Mobile 5G Plans & Prices
The Un-carrier offers 5G without any extra price tags. Customers can choose among any of its unlimited plans and get access the 5G network:
- Essentials, priced $25 – $60 per line
- Magenta, priced $28 – $70 per line
- Magenta Plus, priced $37 – $80 per line
The more lines you activate on your plan, the lower the cost is for each. All include unlimited talk, text, and data, with the Magenta plans offering extra perks like free Netflix and a mobile hotspot allowance.
For 5G users, the two Magenta plans may be a better bet, as each offers video streaming in HD, respectively—a perk that will work nicely in tandem with faster 5G speeds.
T-Mobile 5G vs. Major Carriers
|Carrier||Availability||Frequency||Speed||Plan Cost (1 line)|
|T-Mobile||5,000+ cities||600 MHz||30–100 Mbps||$60-85/month|
|Verizon||Current: Atlanta, Boise, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Greensboro, Hoboken, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City, Omaha, Panama City, Phoenix, Providence, Salt Lake City, Sioux Falls, Spokane, St. Paul, Washington, D.C. |
Future: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Kansas City, Little Rock, San Diego
|28 and 39 GHz||600–800 Mbps||Extra $10/month on top of unlimited plan cost—waived for limited time|
|Sprint||Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Washington, D.C.||2.5 GHz||155–255 Mbps||$70-$80/month|
|AT&T||Birmingham, Boston, Bridgeport, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Milwaukee, New York, Pittsburgh, Providence, Rochester, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose||TBA||2x faster than LTE||$40-50/month|
Data correct as of 1/03/19.
At the moment, T-Mobile is the front-runner for 5G coverage. Its low-band 600 MHz spectrum allows it to reach thousands of cities across the country, compared to a few dozen from the other carriers. Its single-line prices are in line with its fellow wireless providers, as none of the carriers are requiring purchasing a 5G-specific plan at the moment.
While the other carriers aren’t yet focusing on network size, they are getting ahead on speed. Verizon and AT&T are utilizing the aforementioned millimeter waves to provide extremely fast service in the areas where their 5G technology has been installed—in some cases, 1 Gbps or faster.
That said, because of its existing infrastructure and deliberate approach, T-Mobile’s 5G network has the same reliability as its 4G LTE service, making it a solid choice especially in rural areas.
5G Phones from T-Mobile
In order to take advantage of 5G, you’ll need a phone capable of doing so. Most current smartphones don’t yet have a 5G radio installed, though all the major manufacturers have 5G phones in the works.
With its 5G launch, T-Mobile introduced two 5G-enabled smartphones: the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G, and the OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren, which is exclusive to T-Mobile customers. The Galaxy S10 5G was added to the mix shortly thereafter.
One thing to consider when purchasing a device: Because T-Mobile’s 5G network is initially operating on a different spectrum than other carriers, you’ll need a phone specifically built to operate on 600 MHz. So if you already purchased a 5G-enabled phone through a different carrier, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to bring it over to T-Mobile.
Why Choose T-Mobile 5G?
While T-Mobile’s 5G network doesn’t match the speeds offered by the likes of AT&T and Verizon, its wide availability makes it an attractive option for early adopters. Plus, the network is primed for a serious upgrade in the coming months and years as more and more technologies adapt to 5G’s capabilities.
Plus, T-Mobile’s 5G network is currently the one that works indoors. Though higher-frequency millimeter waves are faster, they’re also blocked by walls, trees, and other obstacles—meaning, for now, those lightning-fast speeds are reserved for outdoor spaces only. T-Mobile’s slower but wider-reaching 600MHz spectrum allows 5G access from your house, your work, and anywhere else you can find a signal.