What Is 5G? How 5G Network Technology Works | T-Mobile (2023)

  • What is 5G technology?
  • How fast is 5G?
  • How does 5G work?
  • Why we're different
  • The benefits of 5G

What is 5G technology?

5G stands for “fifth generation” of wireless network technology. It works at higher frequencies than its predecessors, resulting in greater bandwidth and faster data transfer. This creates opportunity for quicker downloads, smoother streaming, and more responsive and reliable online experiences, even in spots with high network traffic.

How fast is 5G?

5G can deliver speeds up to 20 Gbps (two billion bits per second) in ideal conditions. That’s nearly 200 times faster than the 4G network. Your location, network provider, and device capabilities all influence that rate, but significant improvements in speed and performance can be expected from 5G in everyday scenarios.

With superior speeds of up to 20 Gbps, you can download a full 8k movie in six seconds, experience tech such as VR, AR, and automated driving, and connect even more devices than ever before.

Some uses may require certain plan or feature; see plan for details.

4G LTE speeds were far faster than 3G—up to 100,000 Kbps. That means you could download a movie in seven minutes, video chat, stream content, and use cloud services.

3G brought the internet to our mobile phones. But with only 2,000 Kbps speeds, a low‑res movie took over an hour to download, and video and audio streaming were slowed.

How does 5G work?

5G networks can be built in different ways from multiple bands of wavelength spectrum (also known as radio frequencies) to carry information through the air: low-band, mid-band, and high-band.

View 5G coverage map

Check out 5G phones

High-band frequencies, such as millimeter wave (mmWave), have greater bandwidth to carry more data in dense urban areas, but have limited penetration in buildings and require cell sites to be close by.

Mid-band balances speed and range, providing broader coverage than high-band. And it's less impacted by buildings.

Low-band, like the powerful 600MHz spectrum, travels farther—over hundreds of square miles—and can pass through more obstacles, providing better coverage and a stronger signal both indoors and out.

Have more questions about 5G?

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What makes T-Mobile 5G different?

We built our 5G network for coverage and speed. T-Mobile is America’s largest and fastest 5G network, with more 5G network awards than any other carrier.

Independent experts agree: we’re the leader in 5G coverage and speed. We built a 5G network using dedicated 5G frequencies, and other carriers can’t match our nationwide coverage. Plus, with our Ultra Capacity 5G, we’re amping up performance—bringing faster 5G speeds to more places across the country.

Learn more about our best 5G network

Fastest: Based on median, overall combined 5G speeds according to analysis by Ookla® of Speedtest Intelligence® data for Q1 2023. T-Mobile's is America’s most awarded 5G network with the most individual awards for nationwide 5G metrics in public reports from independent industry experts.

How is 5G impacting people’s lives?

Learn how 5G technology and expanded coverage is benefitting and changing our lives for good.

Check out the latest 5G news

Fighting fire with 5G.

Our 5G network is enabling AI-powered active wildfire detection to spot the first signs of wildfires to help stop them before they spread.

The first 5G-enabled drone on our5G network.

Together with the Drone Racing League, we launched a drone that live streams in high definition—bringing sports fans closer to the action than ever before.

Unmatched access to our network forfirst responders.

With Connecting Heroes, we give first responders free service and 5G access, plus preemption and priority access—so critical communications go through first.

For state & local fire, police, and EMS agencies' first responder lines; eligibility verified. Video streaming resolution varies by plan; 480p with Free & Select plans. Coverage not avail. in some areas and may be impacted by emergencies; check your response area.

Discover more about 5G.

What Is 5G? How 5G Network Technology Works | T-Mobile (1)

Is 5G available in my area?

View 5G coverage map

What Is 5G? How 5G Network Technology Works | T-Mobile (2)

Now’s the time to upgrade to a 5G phone.

Shop 5G phones

Got questions?

What is 5G technology?

5G is the next generation of wireless network technology, designed to expand the scope of mobile technology beyond the capabilities of LTE. It will fuel innovation across every industry and transform every aspect of our lives. Over time, 5G technology will change the way we live, work, and play—for the better.

Will 4G phones work on a 5G network?

You must have a5G-capable phoneto access a 5G network. Older 4G devices without 5G radios will not connect to 5G networks.

Will 5G work in 4G areas?

4G and 5G Networks have separate coverage footprints. In many places you will have both 4G and 5G coverage with a 5G device. You can checkour 5G coverage map.

Can I use a 5G phone on a 4G network?

Yes! 5G-capable phones can use both 4G and 5G technology.

What is 5G extended range?

Extended Range 5G is our low-band 5G network. It makes up the foundation of our nationwide 5G and brings 5G service to big cities, rural towns, and unexpected places in between, giving T-Mobile customers more 5G bars in more places on America’s largest 5G network.

What does 5G UC mean?

Customers will see the 5G UC (Ultra Capacity) icon when your device is in an area with T-Mobile's Ultra Capacity 5G. Currently, most 5G phones can access both Extended Range 5G and Ultra Capacity 5G.

When will 4G be phased out?

5G isn't replacing 4G any time soon. In fact, they will coexist and work together. 5G-capable phones can actually use both 4G and 5G technology.

Where is 5G available?

  • See coverage map
  • When you’re in an area with T-Mobile 5G coverage, your phone will show a simple 5G or 5G UC icon in the upper right corner. You can also check our 5G coverage mapto see anticipated coverage by location or at a specific address.

Which 5G phones are for sale?

Check out 5G phones

How fast is 5G Home Internet?

  • T-Mobile 5G Home Internet customers see typical download speeds between 33-182 Mbps, which is great speed for streaming video, surfing the web, working from home and most types of online gaming. Speeds can vary depending on location, signal strength, time of day, and other factors. Our speed projections are based on our analysis of internal and third-party data. See T-Mobile.com/OpenInternetfor more information.
  • Get more information about our high-speed home internet service and check availability at your address by visiting theT-Mobile Home Internet page.

What is 5G Ultra Capacity?

Ultra Capacity 5G includes our mid-band and/or mmWave 5G. It can give you a perfect balance of far-reaching coverage and super-fast speeds, and we have this available in more places than anyone else! Ultra Capacity 5G can deliver speeds as fast as wi-fi right to your phone.


What Is 5G? How 5G Network Technology Works | T-Mobile? ›

5G stands for “fifth generation” of wireless network technology. It works at higher frequencies than its predecessors, resulting in greater bandwidth and faster data transfer.

What 5G technology does T-Mobile use? ›

Ultra Capacity (UC) 5G

Band n41 (2.5 GHz)

Is T-Mobile 5G actually 5G? ›

T-Mobile previously kept things simple with one name: 5G. That has since changed, and it now has two names for the new wireless technology: Ultra Capacity 5G for its faster midband and millimeter-wave networks, and Extended Range 5G for its low-band network.

What is 5G technology and how it works? ›

5G is a unified, more capable air interface. It has been designed with an extended capacity to enable next-generation user experiences, empower new deployment models and deliver new services. With high speeds, superior reliability and negligible latency, 5G will expand the mobile ecosystem into new realms.

What is 5G technology in simple terms? ›

5G is the fifth generation of wireless cellular technology, offering higher upload and download speeds, more consistent connections, and improved capacity than previous networks.

Is 5G faster than WiFi? ›

Though 5G is typically the fastest mobile Internet connection, reliability can be a challenge. WiFi offers a faster, more reliable Internet connection when combined with a reliable router and a reliable Internet plan.

Which is better 5G or LTE? ›

In comparison to LTE, 5G provides much faster data transfer speeds, reduced latency, and other network enhancements.

What are the benefits of T-Mobile 5G? ›

With superior speeds of up to 20 Gbps, you can download a full 8k movie in six seconds, experience tech such as VR, AR, and automated driving, and connect even more devices than ever before. Some uses may require certain plan or feature; see plan for details.

Does 5G give you better phone reception? ›

With faster speeds and low latency, a 5G cellular connection also provides broader signal coverage at all times.

What are the pros and cons of 5G? ›

Benefits of 5G network technology
  • Faster speed. One of the most significant advantages of 5G network technology is blazing-fast speed. ...
  • Lower latency. ...
  • Increased bandwidth. ...
  • Potential for new technology. ...
  • Limited coverage. ...
  • Limited range of connectivity. ...
  • Cybersecurity risks. ...
  • Slow rollout.

Is 5G really necessary? ›

If you need faster speeds, live in an area with 5G coverage and use a phone service provider that runs on T-Mobile or Verizon towers, upgrading to a 5G phone could be worth it for you. Plus, as 5G continues to expand, coverage and download speeds will only improve.

How does 5G work at home? ›

T-Mobile's 5G network is built on a series of cell sites that use radio waves to send and receive data. Your gateway converts the nearest 5G signal into Wi-Fi, allowing you to access the internet wirelessly.

Can 5G penetrate walls? ›

Although 5G mmWave is super fast its wavelengths have short and weak penetration through physical objects such as walls, doors, trees, etc. which means a larger deployment of towers need to provide accurate positioning. Blockages and latency determines the number of towers needed.

What are the three technologies for 5G? ›

For providing a wide range of services, 5G networks can operate in three frequency bands — low, medium, and high. 5G can be implemented in low-band, mid-band or high-band millimeter-wave.

Does 5G use more data? ›

5G doesn't inherently use more data than 4G. It's simply a faster, more advanced network delivering the same content. But because 5G is so much quicker, you might find you're using it more and for data-intensive activities like streaming, video calling, and online gaming.

Does T-Mobile use mmWave 5G? ›

Mid-band spectrum provides the balance of coverage and capacity that enables a seamless and meaningful 5G experience. T-Mobile will continue building out 5G in millimeter wave (mmWave), where it makes sense, like dense urban areas. Millimeter wave delivers massive capacity, but only over a very small footprint.

What is the difference between AT&T 5G and T-Mobile 5G? ›

When it comes to download speeds, T-Mobile beats out AT&T on both 4G LTE and 5G networks. If you've got a 4G phone and you're using T-Mobile, you'll be hitting much faster average speeds than with AT&T. Even more impressively, T-Mobile also delivers 5G speeds that are over twice as fast on average compared to AT&T.

Does T-Mobile really have the best 5G? ›

T-Mobile is the leader in 5G, delivering the country's largest, fastest 5G network. The Un-carrier's Extended Range 5G covers 323 million people across 1.9 million square miles – more than AT&T and Verizon combined.

What is the difference between n77 and n78? ›

n78 is another NR band, covering the frequency range 3.3GHz – 3.8GHz, a subset of the n77 frequency range. The part of the n77 band that is not coincident with n78 (ie 3.8 - 4.2 GHz) is typically known as n77 upper band or just upper n77.

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