When it comes to 5G in the states, right now T-Mobile takes the cake
T-Mobile’s 2.5GHz mid-band spectrum travels 1.5 times the distance as C-Band
If you want to know why mid-band spectrum is so important, let’s look at the properties of high, mid, and low-band spectrum. Low-band travels farther which is why the carriers use it for their nationwide coverage. It also penetrates structures easily. What it doesn’t offer are download data speeds much faster than 4G LTE; in fact, some speed tests have shown that low-band 5G is slower than 4G LTE. High-band airwaves deliver the fastest download data speeds. However, they do not travel long distances and are blocked by leaves, buildings and other structures. Mid-band spectrum provides download data speeds faster than low-band, but slower than high-band. The signals travel farther than high-band but not as far as low-band.
T-Mobile has been promoting its three-tier 5G mobile layer cake that combines mmWave, mid-band, and low-band signals for what many analysts believe will be the best overall 5G experience. The carrier now covers 287 million consumers with its Extended Range 5G service and 125 million with its Ultra Capacity 5G. The goal is to give 200 million people the access to Ultra Capacity 5G before the end of the year even before AT&T and Verizon have started using mid-band spectrum.
In the auction, T-Mobile won an average of 40MHz of C-Band covering 225 million people. But keep in mind that not all mid-band spectrum is the same. The C-Band spectrum auctioned off by the FCC does not travel as far as the 2.5GHz airwaves that T-Mobile obtained by buying Sprint; this is the spectrum used in T-Mobile’s Ultra Capacity 5G and T-Mobile engineers believe that Verizon and AT&T will have to build 50% more cell sites “for meaningful and continuous coverage.”
T-Mobile’s 5G triple layer cake