Sprint, T-Mobile Detail Plans for 5G Network Debuts in 2019

Sprint and T-Mobile plan to launch commercial 5G networks this year. In May, Sprint’s 5G will debut in Chicago, where it is being beta-tested; and parts of Atlanta, Dallas and Kansas City. The next month, Sprint plans to add 5G service in parts of Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. None of the launches will be city-wide. T-Mobile, which is merging with Sprint, said it would launch 600MHz 5G services in the second half of 2019, as it awaits the arrival of compatible devices.

VentureBeat reports that Sprint’s New York City coverage will be “nearly 30 square miles covering Midtown and lower Manhattan,” and “around 230 square miles in Dallas Fort Worth.” The full nine-city rollout will cover over 1,000 square miles. Sprint chief technology officer Dr. John Saw noted that the company’s 5G network uses “2.5 GHz and Massive MIMO to provide fast speeds and true mobility.”

The first 5G smartphone will be “LG’s V50 ThinQ 5G, while its first hotspot will be the HTC 5G Hub (below), both to be followed by the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G,” the latter of which will be on sale by summer.

In Chicago, Sprint is “seeing mobile speeds in the 420Mbps range,” and expects faster speeds when the network is debuted. Sprint’s 2.5GHz 5G network will also integrate with T-Mobile’s 600MHz 5G network. Sprint stated it will offer 5G services to Google Fi customers; both companies said that, “Sprint 5G-compatible Designed for Fi phones will be able to connect to the network, leaving open the question of how many phones will actually be capable of connecting to Sprint’s 2.5GHz towers.”

Elsewhere, VB noted that Finnish company Hatch Entertainment plans “to offer mobile cloud gaming services on Sprint’s 5G network in the U.S.” Users will have “unlimited on-demand access” to more than 100 premium mobile games and shared gameplay sessions with voice chat; also on offer is Hatch Kids, with no ads or in-app purchasing.

In another article, VB described T-Mobile’s 5G network launch plans. Originally the company said it would launch in 30 cities, with its “lower-speed but longer-distance 600MHz radios.” T-Mobile has placed 600MHz towers in 2,700 towns and cities within 42 states.

The hold-up is that the company has had trouble finding a phone manufacturer willing to build a 5G phone for the 600MHz frequency; “thus far, handset makers have focused most of their energy on making 5G phones with 28GHz to 39GHz millimeter wave transmitters, and/or ‘sub-6GHz’ transmitters in the 2.5GHz to 3.7GHz range.” As a result, the company had no 5G devices to show at CES 2019.

When asked about supported devices, T-Mobile said now that “it will offer millimeter wave 5G in unspecified areas before 600MHz 5G handsets become available.”