T-Mobile US has been granted permission to test 5G New Radio across a broader swath of 600 MHz spectrum than it has licenses for, in areas of Los Angeles, California; Dallas, Texas; Seattle, Washington; and Las Vegas, Nevada. The carrier said that it wants to test 5G NR across wider 600 MHz bandwidths in densely populated areas with multiple vendors.

According to documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission, the carrier was granted testing permission for a two-year period. T-Mobile US had already been granted such permission for 5G testing in currently unused 600 MHz spectrum at other sites in Los Angeles by the FCC; the new testing will expand the number of sites in Los Angeles and add the four other markets.

The application includes four sites in the Seattle area, 22 in California, 10 in Las Vegas and one site in the Dallas area, in spectrum between 617-652 MHz and 663-698 MHz.

T-Mobile US is already a major holder of 600 MHz spectrum licenses, including licenses in each of the markets mentioned. The carrier said in its application that being able to access the additional spectrum — which it said “would otherwise remain temporarily unused” will allow it to “gain a better understanding of the new innovative services that the 600 MHz band can offer during the technology development phase of the various advanced features and functionalities of 5G NR.”

“T-Mobile seeks to make its 600 MHz service even better,” the carrier said, so it has been testing 5G with various equipment manufacturers under the previous permission from the FCC in order to “evaluate 5G NR across wider bandwidths, especially in densely populated areas” and has been doing so by incorporating additional 600 MHz spectrum that isn’t being used, in addition to the spectrum for which it holds licenses. While there are license holders of the other 600 MHz spectrum blocks (T-Mobile holds one or more of the A, B, C and/or D blocks in each of the test markets), the carrier sought expanded access to spectrum that was either “unassigned and unused since the conclusion of the broadcast incentive auction” or which was not currently in active use.

T-Mobile US added that the expanded testing in undeployed spectrum will “allow T-Mobile to continue to assess the full characteristics of the 600 MHz band using different technology vendors, particularly in congested markets, and gain a better understanding of the new, innovative services that this low-band spectrum can offer” while avoiding interference with active users.

T-Mo said that it will use “approximately 10 retail or experimental handsets per site” and connect them to specific base stations able to access the spectrum, but it would “not activate either customer units or base stations for the exclusive purpose of using the 600 MHz spectrum to which T-Mobile is seeking access.”

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