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T-Mobile’s latest 5G coverage hails from the era of Sprint, 3G, and 4G


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Illustration of the T-Mobile logo, the letter T in a pink box with two squares on either side of it, in front of a blue and aqua background. T-Mobile is doing spectrum stuff again. | Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

T-Mobile has enjoyed an undeniable head start in 5G in the US, thanks to its lucrative Sprint deal, and it’s turning some old spectrum around to pad out its lead. The company has deployed its 1,900MHz spectrum nationwide on its mid-band Ultra Capacity 5G network. The 1,900MHz band has a new lease on life after previously serving the now-defunct Sprint LTE and T-Mobile 3G networks.

T-Mobile used its 1,900MHz holdings in a past life to host 3G HSPA+ service while it built out an LTE network using 1,700MHz spectrum. This was also instrumental in making sure unlocked 3G iPhones could use T-Mobile’s network — the 1,700MHz spectrum it relied on for 3G wasn’t compatible with the iPhone. Meanwhile, Sprint used its 1,900MHz spectrum to build out...

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