T-Mobile Just Broke a 5G Upload Speed Record — Here’s When You’ll See the Benefits




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T-Mobile on Thursday said its 5G wireless network delivered record-breaking upload speeds in a test of new technical capabilities.

The Bellevue-based carrier said it was able to deliver upload speeds of 345 megabits per second, the fastest ever recorded in North America using mid-band or lower frequency spectrum. While the feat was achieved in just a test, the results offer a glimpse into the higher speeds in store for subscribers down the line. T-Mobile said it expects to see this capability arrive in devices in 2025.

While most people focus on download speeds, which allow you to stream higher definition videos and download files quicker, upload speeds are increasingly important for anyone who live streams content on YouTube, posts videos on TikTok, or rely on a connection for first-person shooting games. It’ll be increasingly important for technologies like augmented reality or self-driving cars, which require fast, reliable connections to work smoothly. For 5G home internet customers, this could also mean a smoother experience on your computer and television.

T-Mobile worked with wireless chip maker Qualcomm and network equipment supplier Nokia to hit the new benchmark. It used a couple of technical tricks to boost the speed of its existing network. The first is a feature called UL Tx switching, which taps into different frequencies of spectrum. In other words, it’s like expanding a highway with more lanes and allowing you to weave in and out of each one to zip by faster. There’s also carrier aggregation, which pulls together multiple channels of spectrum, and SU-MIMO, which is essentially jams in more antennas, allowing you to send multiple cars down that super highway.

You don’t really need to fully grasp the technical details of the technology — just know that it’ll lead to a network that runs faster down the line.

“This achievement is a testament to our relentless pursuit of innovation and our commitment to delivering an even better network experience to our customers,” said Ulf Ewaldsson, president of technology at T-Mobile. 

This work has enabled T-Mobile to take the crown of fastest network in the country, and allowed it to wrestle away the reputation for network quality from Verizon Wireless.

Part of that has to do with the mid-band spectrum, often referred to as sub-6 Ghz because they operate below that frequency. T-Mobile has had a large swath of the spectrum thanks to its acquisition of Sprint, and has utilized it well. Verizon and AT&T just got spectrum in this frequency last year, and has been busy upgrading their networks too.

It’s important to note that the record only applies to sub-6 Ghz spectrum. The carriers also offer a different flavor of 5G that runs on millimeter wave spectrum, which is a higher frequency that allows for the kinds of speeds you would normally find with fiber optic cables (above the 1 Gbps mark). But the range from that spectrum is tight, which is why you mostly see it in stadiums or crowded city centers like Times Square. Carriers have different labels for it, like Verizon calling it Ultra Wideband, or UW.

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