After purchasing 600MHz spectrum, T-Mobile has been hard at work to put to use as soon as possible. The company recently launched the 600MHz network in Cheyenne, Wyoming. T-Mobile plans to build out the low-band network across the entire country and help fill the coverage gap with Verizon “by the end of the year,” as previously said by T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray.
Unfortunately for T-Mobile, the spectrum isn’t going to make a big difference any time soon. While the company is hard at work to expand its coverage capabilities, the 600MHz spectrum isn’t currently supported by any devices on the market.
LTE has never been deployed to support 600MHz in the United States or rather anywhere in the world. This means that chipset makers and device manufacturers have to specifically tune hardware to communicate with T-Mobile’s cell towers over Band 71.
It was hoped that Samsung would be able to put in support for the spectrum in its recently announced Galaxy Note 8, but unfortunately that’s not the case.
Qualcomm has now come in with more interesting news. The manufacturer of cellular modems inside almost all Android devices has confirmed to BGR that “Supporting 600 MHz requires specific components on the board. If those components weren’t already designed into the phone, it can never support 600 MHz.” Essentially, you can’t just change things in the software to support the low-band, changes have to be made to components.
Qualcomm did however update its blog post that “Qualcomm Technologies has confirmed support of 600 MHz in the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem — featured in the Snapdragon 835 mobile platform— and the WTR5975 RF transceiver that it pairs with.”
Even though currently there are no devices supporting the band, by the end of 2017, both LG and Samsung will launch B71-compatible devices.