Roaming Report – Part 9 – Frequency Bands used for LTE and 5G in the US – Operator 3

There are three nationwide LTE/5G networks in the US. As I could roam in all three of them when I was recently in the US, I also had a look at the bands that are requested by the third network to be reported by the UE. So here are the results:

LTE: 29, 66, 2, 14, 12, 30, 4, 17
5G: n2, n5, n66, n77, n260

And like before, these band lists contain interesting similarities and differences compared to the other two networks. Let’s start again with the LTE side: This network operator seems to have quite a bit of 700 MHz spectrum, as bands 12, 14 and 17 are all in the 700 MHz range. And so is LTE band 29, which, however, is a bit special, as it is an SDL (supplementary downlink) band, i.e. it only offers a downlink channel. Band 30 is in the 2.3 GHz range, and I haven’t seen it in the lists of the other network operators. Band 66 (1.7/2.1 GHz) seems to be very popular, as all US network operators asked my devices if they supported it.

On the 5G NR side, this network operator asked for even more bands than the other two, which might indicate that they are very keen to migrate spectrum from LTE to the 5G side. Like with network operator 2, their 5G workhorse band seems to be n77 (3.5 GHz).

I wasn’t really surprised that my devices I bought in the EU, and which are already 2 years old, did not support LTE bands 14, 29 and 30. The more was I surprised to see them supporting all 5G bands except of course the n260 mmWave spectrum, which requires a special and expensive frontend.

So let’s summarize across all networks: All devices I brought with me from Europe supported the majority of LTE bands of all networks. In addition, all of them supported 5G NR bands n77 and n41, which are the work horses of all networks due to channel bandwidths of up to 100 MHz. Some of my devices did not support LTE carrier aggregation, which significantly limits speeds in areas where 5G NR is not deployed. Quite a pity. But I had one device with me that didn’t have that limitation, so non LTE-CA support of EU centric devices while roaming in the US might perhaps not to be the norm but rather the exception.

So much for the US. In the next post, I’ll have a look at how networks and my devices behaved in Canada. Teaser: Good, bad and interesting surprises here as well.