T-Mobile answers burning questions about 5G.

Additional Note: T-Mobile contacted me after the publication to clarify two things about their home Internet product. First, it’s me, not him, denouncing Nokia modems as unreliable (based on my review) and second, any potential new partners will be redundant instead of eliminating the existing option. I thank them for their explanation.

Some conversations create a clear statement, while others only answer a lot of burning questions. I spent Saturday in Hawaii at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit (Tough Life, I Know) and was one of the last types of conversations with T-Mobile. It was a bit everywhere, but it answered a lot of questions I wanted to know and now I can share that insight with you.

The key players here are Ryan Sullivan, VP of T-Mobile for Product Engineering and Karri Kuoppamaki, SVP of Tech Strategy. So what did they tell me about 5G?

  • T-Mobile will be able to take advantage of Qualcomm X65’s 3 carrier 5G aggregation in many different ways. The carrier has more than 100MHz midband 5G spectrum in most locations, and in those locations, it needs 3xCA to channel low band for uplink / better range in addition to two 100MHz midband channels. There are also cities (such as New York) where its midband allocation is split in half and can be used as two separate bands. Therefore, X65 phones (such as Galaxy S22) should significantly improve T-Mobile’s mid-band performance.

  • Kuoppamaki insists that at least the middle band carrier aggregation (n41 / n71) is already live, but will not tell me where it is. I’m having a hard time finding this mysterious feature in the real world. Other sources tell me it’s live on the network, but no user’s phone has received the firmware update it needs to activate the device.

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  • The 3.45-to-3.55GHz spectrum, which is in the middle of the auction, should be cleared in some places by the end of 2022. This means that AT&T, and anyone who buys this spectrum, will likely see a significant increase in C-band. Performance, especially when used next year with these X65 modems, is higher than the initial C-band launch.

  • T-Mobile is really reducing the millimeter wave. Over the years, it has shown mmWave as a layer on the “layer cake” of its spectrum. Now these are just a few candles. This is dramatically the opposite of how Qualcomm has consistently pushed MMV in every presentation over the last several days.

  • You cannot make 8K video calls on Magenta Max. (Qualcomm is talking a lot about 8K this week.) Sullivan said, “There’s never been a streak, but it’s up to 4K,” Sullivan said.

  • Sullivan reiterated that yes, T-Mobile is acquiring new home Internet devices to replace these incredible Nokia modems. “Soon you will see announcements about what we have found in the roadmap of emerging products there,” he said.

Good stuff, okay?

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What else happened this week?

I’m probably writing a lot of articles from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit. Some of it is my own psychological need to justify this trip to Hawaii by bombarding you with technical news. It’s just that there is a lot of tech news in this event. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

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