AT&T last week named the first cities to get access to its 5G rollout, and now Sprint has done the same for its network.
Interestingly, of the three cities named by AT&T and the six by Sprint, two of them are set to see 5G service from both carriers …
Sprint says that its first six cities will be Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, LA and Washington, DC. It has Atlanta and Dallas in common with AT&T, which also included Waco, Texas.
There are, though, a couple of catches to Sprint’s announcement. First, while AT&T says it will begin 5G service by the end of this year, Sprint is aiming only for the first half of 2019. Second, with carriers arguing about what 5G actually means, Sprint says that it will initially be providing ‘5G-like capabilities,’ suggesting that it may not be fully compatible with 3GPP standards.
Instead, it says that the Massive MIMO technology it will employ will serve as a stepping stone to true 5G.
Massive MIMO is a critical bridge to Sprint’s 5G network. 5G technology promises to connect people, places and billions of things with blazing fast speed, ultra-reliable, low-latency wireless service. This breakthrough technology will enable new levels of innovation and progress including cloud robotics, telemedicine, connected cars and drones, augmented and virtual reality and more.
Sprint shares that it will, though, offer similar speeds of up to ten times current LTE, and that the masts used will be software-upgradable to 5G further down the line.
Sprint will deploy 64T64R (64 transmit, 64 receive) Massive MIMO radios using 128 antennas working with technology leaders Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung Electronics. The Massive MIMO radios from all three suppliers are software-upgradable to 5G without additional tower climbs. The Massive MIMO radios support split-mode service, enabling Sprint to offer both 4G LTE and 5G on the same radio.
Verizon has promised 5G sometime this year, but has not yet named its launch cities. All the major carriers are using different definitions to claim that they will be the first to launch 5G. Apple may not support 5G in this year’s iPhones, but carriers are indicating that the technology is likely to come first to mobile hotspots.
Sprint announced yesterday that it is also working to bring much faster connection speeds to airline WiFi.