T-Mobile is ramping up its 5G service to have a larger reach and better speed than before. In September, the company purchased 2.5GHz mid-band spectrum for its 5G service as well as acquired Sprint for $26 billion in an effort to increase its coverage area. Mid-band spectrum is often seen as the “sweet spot” of wireless networking technology due to its ability to provide longer distances and faster speeds compared to 4G LTE connections. However, since the Federal Communications Commission‘s (FCC) auction authority expired, it has been unable to issue licenses for the purchased spectrum held by T-Mobile. To attempt a fix, last Friday T-Mobile applied for Special Temporary Authorization (STA) with the FCC in order to deploy its current 2,724 county coverage area more effectively while providing rural populations better services they are currently lacking. Analysts speculate that by taking this stance with one of the leading wireless providers in the country, the FCC may be attempting to spark Congress into reactivating their auction authority so everyone can benefit from access to faster 5G networks nationwide.
If granted STA, this would give T-Mobile an unprecedented advantage over other competitors such as AT&T and Verizon who may not have access or control over mid-band spectrum yet. More importantly, it could potentially help bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas by providing those communities with high quality internet services they desperately need but cannot gain access otherwise. Whether or not this move will successfully convince Congress into reactivating their powers remains unknown at this moment but it’s certainly opening up doors for discussion on how companies like T-Mobile can help expand our national infrastructure moving forward. Ultimately having strong competition amongst different wireless providers means customers will always get great deals under fair terms — something every person should be looking forward to if mid-band spectrum becomes available soon across all states in our nation.
The FCC is set to make its decision regarding T-Mobile’s application soon. In the meantime, the company is continuing its efforts to provide customers with better 5G service by exploring other ways to access unused spectrum and improve infrastructure in rural communities across the country. If successful, this move could be a huge step forward in making true 5G service available to everyone nationwide. Only time will tell if T-Mobile’s plan succeeds and if the FCC grants STA or not, but it is clear that the public should be excited for what this could potentially mean for their internet access in the near future.