Get ready Sprint subscribers because your wireless carrier is finally bringing you its 5G network. Spring has announced that that it's launching its 5G network this May, starting in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Kansas City. In first half of the year, the carrier expects to bring 5G service to Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, and Washington, DC.
Details for the Sprint 5G network are fairly slim, much like all 5G announcement from other wireless carriers. Sprint declined to provide more details regarding its 5G service plans and what they will look like, and there's also no specifics about what speeds subscribers can expect to see.
On a call this morning, Sprint's chief technology officer John Saw was asked about speeds, to which he said, “We don't really want to focus too much on speeds, but the experience.” The company ran one demo video today with someone getting 430 Mbps speeds, which is about 10x more of what you might see with LTE today.
If you're a Google Fi subscriber (yours truly!), there's also some great news for you. Sprint said that its 5G network will be part of Google Fi network. Google Fi is Google's wireless carrier service (MVNO) that piggybacks on the networks of Sprint and T-Mobile. There were no details given as to when Google FI would become 5G-compatible to offer 5G service, and there's also no timeline of when Google would start offering 5G-compatible phones. Furthermore, Sprint's marketing chief indicated that early Sprint 5G phones will likely not be compatible across networks, making things more complicated for Google.
Since Sprint isn't launching super-fast millimeter wave coverage like other wireless carriers (because it doesn't own the licenses on wireless airwaves), it will launch using the carrier's mid-band spectrum. The mid-band spectrum is faster than LTE airwaves, but don't travel as far. Sprint also pointed out that it will rely on “massive MIMO” to improve 5G network's capabilities.
In terms of Sprint first 5G-compatible phone, it will be LG's V50 ThinQ 5G. In addition, it will get Samsung's Galaxy S10 5G phone after Verizon's exclusivity period ends. Sprint will also launch its 5G hotspot from HTC sometime “this spring.”
Sprint CEO Michel Combes touched a bit on their merger details with T-Mobile, saying that the merger would allow Sprint's 5G network to be deployed a lot faster and offer broader coverage for subscribers. Interestingly, he avoided a question about whether the network wouldn't be able to reach nationwide without T-Mobile's assistance, and instead said that the merger between the two carriers would help speed up the country's migration to 5G network.
“It’s obvious that by merging the two companies you get the full benefits in terms of accelerating deployment and coverage of network,” Combes said. Earlier, he said the merger would “supercharge our 5G strategy.”
Right now, Sprint is testing its 5G network in downtown Chicago. Once the 5G network launches, the company will some limited details about availability for subscribers on its 5G network.