T-Mobile takes its 5G wireless pitch on a road trip with giant ‘Tech Truck’


The Internet may not be a big truck (it’s a series of tubes of course), but in a way, the Internet is inside a big truck—the T-Mobile Tech Truck. Emblazoned with T-Mobile’s trademark magenta, the newly-christened T-Mobile Tech Truck will be touring the country over the next year to demonstrate the company’s latest Internet innovations.

With a heavy focus on next-generation 5G wireless technologies and the Internet of things (IoT), the Tech Truck is part of T-Mobile’s effort to convince the world that it’s not just a wireless carrier, but also a cutting-edge innovator.

The company says it’s aiming to roll out 5G nationwide by 2020, after initial deployments in select cities this year. T-Mobile is appealing to regulators to approve its merger with Sprint by asserting that the combination will make it a more viable competitor in 5G, which promises to make future wireless speeds faster than many current home Internet connections.

T-Mobile Tech Experience in Bellevue, WA (GeekWire Photos / Tim Ellis)

Also this week, T-Mobile is officially launching its brand new “Tech Experience” exhibit, tucked away in an inconspicuous cluster of warehouse buildings a few miles north of T-Mobile’s main headquarters in Bellevue, Wash. The Tech Experience showcases a wide variety of applications for high-speed mobile technology that the wireless company is rolling out in the near future.

GeekWire got a preview of both the Tech Experience and the Tech Truck, including demos that provide a peek at an Internet future that’s just around the corner. In one, a cell phone mounted to a drone sends near-instantaneous video from 400 feet in the air over the LTE network (current drones are only allowed to communicate over WiFi). In another, you roll a soccer ball on a table in front of a camera and see the real-time difference in the latency of 4G LTE, Gigabit LTE, and 5G via the video feeds of the surrounding cameras (you can see this one in action below).

The Tech Experience exhibit shares a space with “Launch Pad,” T-Mobile’s test lab, where they test every piece of new hardware and develop their own new and interesting software applications. They call it the “Launch Pad,” because “all of the technologies that roll out are tested and proven here first,” explained Erin Raney, T-Mobile’s Director of Network Technology Services and Innovation.

One room is host to every single type of antenna ever used on the T-Mobile network, past, present, and future. There’s a pair of RF-sealed rooms for testing equipment without interference, and a testing data center that’s larger than the production data centers of most most tech firms.

Inside T-Mobile’s antenna test lab in Bellevue, WA (GeekWire Photos / Tim Ellis)
Inside T-Mobile’s IoT test lab in Bellevue, WA (GeekWire Photos / Tim Ellis)
The “Wall of Technology Firsts” inside the T-Mobile Tech Truck (GeekWire Photos / Tim Ellis)

T-Mobile will be taking the Tech Truck (a “bad a$$, souped-up semi-truck,” according to their press release) on a road trip over the next year, with “dozens of stops in cities across the country” and special events in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Las Vegas.