Today at MWC Barcelona, Sprint announced that standards-based 5G is now on-air, with commercial service expected to launch starting in May. Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and Kansas City are expected to be among the first cities to offer commercial 5G service; with Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington D.C. also slated to launch in the first half of 2019.
At launch, Sprint said its customers can expect mobile 5G coverage ranging from nearly 30 square miles covering Midtown and lower Manhattan, to approximately 230 square miles spanning the greater Dallas Fort Worth area, for a total initial 5G coverage footprint of more than 1,000 square miles across all nine cities.
“We’re excited to play our part in advancing the next generation of wireless technology as we prepare to debut our mobile 5G service in nine markets,” said Sprint CEO Michel Combes. “Even better, when combined with T-Mobile we will be able to roll out 5G in more places, more quickly, building an incredible nationwide 5G network that reaches underserved communities, accelerates competition, and drives new levels of U.S. innovation and progress.”
Sprint 5G is currently on-air in downtown Chicago where the company is testing and optimizing its deployment of standards-based 5G software and hardware using Massive MIMO radios from Samsung Electronics America Inc. Initial drive tests show Sprint 5G is providing connectivity in the downtown area, from the Magnificent Mile and the Loop to University of Illinois at Chicago.
“Wireless customers are soon going to have their first mobile 5G experience with Sprint, and it won’t be limited to their home or a millimeter wave hotspot,” said Sprint CTO Dr. John Saw. “Real 5G is now on-air in Chicago, marking a major milestone for the commercialization of Sprint 5G using 2.5 GHz and Massive MIMO to provide fast speeds and true mobility.”
Massive MIMO the foundation of Sprint 5G
In addition to deploying mobile 5G with Samsung in Chicago, Sprint is also field testing standards-based 5G in multiple markets, including in Los Angeles with Nokia and in Atlanta with Ericsson. In December, Sprint, with Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, completed its first over-the-air 5G data transmission using 2.5 GHz and Massive MIMO on its live network in San Diego.
Sprint’s 5G build is well under way with hundreds of Massive MIMO radios deployed. Massive MIMO is a breakthrough technology that dramatically improves the capacity of Sprint’s LTE Advanced network with equipment that is software upgradable to 5G. Sprint’s 64T64R Massive MIMO radios from Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung support split-mode, enabling the company to offer LTE and 5G simultaneously on the same radio. With Massive MIMO at the foundation of its mobile 5G service, Sprint can keep meeting its customers’ demand for unlimited data and high-bandwidth applications.