During its first quarter earnings call this week, the company's CTO Neville Ray revealed that the first 600MHz-supported handsets will be available "before the end of the year," and the Samsung will be the first out of the gate. Other manufacturers like LG, with its V30, will also likely support the new technology.
The net benefit for T-Mobile, as it steals more customers from Verizon and AT&T, is the ability to reach customers in more rural areas, since airwaves over 600MHz travel further. Until now, most low-band spectrum has been largely held by Verizon and AT&T, so T-Mobile is understandably excited about the prospect of taking on its biggest rivals in parts of the U.S. where its coverage has been either weak or non-existent.
Yes, we are adding support for the 600 MHz band to the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem and the WTR5975 with which is pairs. https://t.co/onx7piC0sR
T-Mobile is also launching service in the unlicensed spectrum space, which allows the company to aggregate traditionally non-cellular spectrum in the 5GHz space with licensed spectrum in lower bands for much faster speeds. The company is already testing LTE-U in certain parts of the country, and plans to experiment with another unlicensed standard called LAA, or Licensed-Assisted Access, with the intention of rolling it out more substantively in 2018 and 2019. The Galaxy S8 is the first phone in the U.S. to support LTE-U on T-Mobile's network.
Going back to the Galaxy Note 8, though — even if it's released later than it was last year, pushed up by the Galaxy S8's debut, it would likely still be out in September, which would give T-Mobile plenty of marketing opportunities to promote its improved rural coverage (and better nationwide coverage overall) for the all-important holiday season. T-Mobile added over a million new customers this past quarter, mainly at the expense of AT&T and Verizon, so it will be interesting to see whether, when it can truly compete on a network level, the momentum can be maintained.