What is the C-Band 5G and why is it so much better?

5G cellular pole repeaters.
Lisic / Shutterstock.com

Fromm mmWave to 5G UC, there are already a few names associated with 5G to follow. And now mobile operators have thrown another term into the mix: C-band 5G. So how is it different and why does it matter?

The latest taste of 5G

Wireless operators use radio waves to provide cellular services. Different cellular technologies, including different forms of 5G, use different parts of the frequency range of radio waves called bands. For example, mmWave or millimeter wave 5G uses high bands (24GHz-40GHz).

Similarly, the C-band is also part of the frequency range of radio waves. In February 2020 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) determined that the 3.7 GHz-4.2 GHz frequency band will be known as the C-Band. Outside this range, the 3.7 GHz-3.98 GHz spectrum was allocated to mobile operators for their 5G deployment.

So, C-band 5G essentially refers to the deployment of fifth generation cellular networks on this frequency spectrum. Although the C-band has its own name, its frequency range falls in the middle 5G spectrum.

Why is C-Band important?

Installing a Verizon 5G node
Verizon

Mobile operators mainly use three bands to deploy 5G in the United States – high bands (mmWave), medium bands (1GHz-6GHz) and low bands (below -1GHz). While mmWave 5G is the fastest and theoretically capable of reaching 10Gbps speed, its coverage is limited and there are problems with penetration through obstacles such as walls, trees, rain, etc. So it is useful only in dense urban areas, where you have direct visibility to the 5G tower.

On the other hand, low-frequency frequencies can reach much longer distances, but their data rates are relatively low, only slightly better than LTE. As a result, these frequencies are best suited to rural areas where demand for connectivity is low but longer distance coverage is required.

So midrange frequencies, including C-band, offer an attractive trade-off between the two. These frequencies can offer a fast broadband connection and a decent coverage area. However, the spectrum is difficult to access and has already been allocated for other purposes.

That said, the FCC managed to cut it 280MHz of the midrange spectrum to use 5G, which went to auction as a C-band in 2020-2021. And wireless operators have insisted on this, spending more than $ 81 billion to acquire it.

Mobile operators plan to use this spectrum of C-band to complement their mmWave and low-frequency 5G deployments. As a result, they will be able to provide a more reliable and fast 5G experience that is not limited to specific locations in key cities or simply gradually faster than 4G LTE.

Overall, C-band 5G will strengthen 5G networks in urban and semi-urban areas with typical data rates ranging from 250Mbps to 450Mbps and good network availability. In short, it will finally make 5G worth the time.

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Which operators launch C-Band 5G?

From May 2022 AT&T and Verizon launches C-band 5G in the United States. While AT&T offers the 5G C-band as part of its 5G + service, Verizon calls it the 5G Ultra Wideband. Both operators also use the same marketing names to implement mmWave 5G.

You can determine if you are in a C-band or mmWave 5G network by looking for the 5G UWB, 5G UW or 5G + symbol in your phone’s status bar.

T-Mobile and US Cellular have also received C-band spectrum, but their 5G deployment of these frequencies is not expected until the end of 2023 or 2024. However, T-Mobile, which has the largest share of the US mid-range, has already released 5G in the middle band of the 2.5GHz spectrum it received from Sprint. So it doesn’t depend as much on the C-band as AT&T or Verizon. And even without the C-band 5G, T-Mobile remains the leader Availability and range of 5G.

Do all 5G phones support C-Band?

Justin Duino

Unfortunately, not all existing 5G phones support CG-5G. For the C-band 5G in the US, the phone needs the necessary hardware to support C-band frequencies, firmware that allows them, and FCC approval.

You can look up n77 5G bandwidth support in your phone’s specifications to confirm if there is C-bandwidth support. However, even with n77 bandwidth support, the phone will need the appropriate firmware from the operator to activate it.

Some popular smartphones that support both AT&T and Verizon’s C-band 5G are:

Great potential

The C-band has the potential to change the 5G landscape in the long run. It gives cellular operators the ability to offer 5G from the middle band, which is the most practical 5G for consumers, nationwide. In addition, with the availability of C-band, all three major US wireless carriers now have access to low-frequency, mid-band, and high-frequency 5G frequencies, allowing them to mix and match spectra for the best 5G experience possible.

If your current phone is not listed as supporting C-band 5G and you are considering upgrading, compare your options with our purchase guides for the best iPhones and best android phones.

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