Sprint is launching its 5G network in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Kansas City today, becoming the third largest operator in the US. UU In starting the next era of mobile data. "This is probably the biggest initial release of 5G in terms of coverage and footprint," Sprint director John Saw told reporters gathered in Dallas this morning. In this particular city, Sprint's 5G launch space covers 575 square miles and approximately 1.6 million people. "This is just the beginning," Saw said. Sprint offers a coverage map where customers can expect the 5G signal at launch, something their competitors have not yet done.
But for Sprint, 5G is much more than coverage: it's about reliability. Rivals Verizon and AT & T have concentrated their 5G launch efforts on millimeter wave technology, which offers true next-level data speeds that can exceed 1Gbps, but with the commitment of extremely irregular coverage.
In the case of Verizon, the coverage is strong when you are near one of your 5G nodes, but it shrinks quickly as you move away and disappears completely once the node is out of sight. Indoor coverage is also essentially non-existent, with Verizon retreating at LTE speeds as the windows and walls are enough to defeat the millimeter wave. Sprint executives today described Verizon's current configuration as a "5G access point network," which is a pretty brutal burn.
Instead, Sprint uses what it calls "split mode" to allow devices to combine 5G NR and LTE Advanced for faster download speeds and, which is more important, 5G coverage. That's something consistent. Sprint is not relying on the same high frequency millimeter wave technology as Verizon and AT & T at this time. Instead, it is building 5G over its 2.5GHz medium band wireless spectrum. According to Saw, Sprint's antennas in the 5G markets are divided with dedicated LTE and 5G resources. "We're not sharing spectrum, we're not stealing bandwidth from LTE users, and you do not see a 5G slowdown just because LTE customers are using a lot of data." The saw insists that this is not possible only with the millimeter wave. "I think we are the only operator in the United States that can launch our 5G network to have exactly the same coverage as LTE, one on top of the other."
But how fast is it? The Sprint promise is up to five times faster than LTE. "We are trying to establish the right expectations," Saw said. "I should see more than 100Mbps when I'm driving." Sprint led the media on a short two-mile bus trip to demonstrate mobile speeds. The new LG V50 effectively stayed above the 100 Mbps mark throughout the test, and never dropped Sprint's 5G network during the unit. The maximum speeds reached between 500 Mbps and 600 Mbps when we stopped and we were stationary. But Sprint is definitely being conservative in its orientation and reiterates that this is the first day and that the improvements will arrive early and often.
However, some people will inevitably be disappointed by those maximum speeds. "That's hardly better than what I get now", is an easy criticism, but you also have to think about the real world speeds compared to the announced or theoretical performance. Sprint says its LTE clients typically get around 30 Mbps.
Sprint states that it will cover approximately 11.5 million people once it completes the launch of its initial 5G launch in these cities:
- Atlanta (available now) 150 square miles, approx. 565,000 people
- Chicago (coming soon)
- Dallas-Fort Worth (available now) 575 square miles, approx. 1.6 million people
- Houston (available now) 165 square miles, approx. 800,000 people
- Kansas City (available now) 225 square miles, approx. 625,000 people
- Los Angeles (coming soon)
- New York City (coming soon)
- Phoenix (coming soon)
The first two devices compatible with the operator's 5G are the LG V50 and the HTC 5G Hub, The two will go on sale on May 31. The V50 has a 6.4-inch OLED screen and specifications similar to the G8, but what you really need to know is that it also has a 5G logo on the back that lights up in yellow, which seems appropriate at the top for a first Wave Phone 5G The Hub 5G is a small weird device that mainly serves as a Wi-Fi and Ethernet access point. Supports up to 20 simultaneous device connections. But the Hub also runs Android 9 Pie on its 5-inch 720p screen, has the built-in Google Assistant and, according to Sprint, offers a lot of possibilities to stream 4K content and games to your TV screen. Sprint says the Galaxy S10 5G will follow these devices sometime this summer once Verizon's exclusivity ends.
When Saw talked to journalists, he compared the ideal structure of the 5G network with a wedding cake. The high frequency millimeter wave will provide the mind-boggling maximum speeds I saw with Verizon in Chicago. The medium band 2.5 GHz spectrum will make the 5G coverage more reliable and stable. And the low-band "sub-6" spectrum will be crucial to ensure that 5G can reach strong indoor locations and difficult coverage points. As expected, he proposed the merger of T-Mobile as essential, since that company owns a large amount of low band spectrum that would complement Sprint's own.
"The US has the opportunity to win the 5G race, and allowing the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile will allow the United States to lead the way," Sprint CEO Michel Combes said on Thursday. "Only the new T-Mobile will have the network and spectrum capacity needed to deliver the right 5G experience for customers."
I am in Dallas and I will give the first two Sprint 5G products a comprehensive test in the next couple days. So if you have any questions, say goodbye to the comments.