- Sprint says it will launch its 5G network in the US in the first half of 2019.
- This will follow early deployments from AT&T and Verizon toward the end of this year, but will beat out T-Mobile which is aiming for full support by 2020.
- Subscribers will have to pay more for its 5G networks that for 4G LTE plans.
Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure says the company will launch its 5G network on the 2.5 GHz spectrum in the first half of next year. Claure made the comments in a quarterly earnings conference call with investors last week (via Fierce Wireless), meaning Sprint has brought forward its previous plans to commercialize 5G in late 2019.
To achieve this, Sprint will add antennas to its existing towers that can support MIMO transmissions, and upgrade its hardware to the 5G NR standard later through a software update.
Claure believes Sprint is the “only carrier that doesn’t have to compromise what 5G can deliver” as it can support “super-wide channels of more than 100 MHz while still delivering mid-band coverage characteristics.” Sprint owns around 160 MHz of the 2.5 GHz spectrum in the top 100 US cities.
On the downside, Claure said Sprint’s unlimited 5G-compatible service would cost more than its 4G plans. “We’re going to have a lot of room to increase our price of unlimited to get to similar prices as Verizon and AT&T in the future,” said Claure. “You get that by having that amazing network. You get that by being the first one to launch 5G.”
Until then, Claure said subscribers may “see some modest price increases in the next year” but that these wouldn’t be “substantial.”
Both Verizon and AT&T aim to begin their 5G rollouts in 2018 (in just a few cities each), but the full deployment won’t follow until sometime later; Sprint was no doubt under pressure to remain competitive during this crucial introduction period of 5G mobile internet. Though it won’t have anything to show until next year, it is on course to beat out rival T-Mobile, which says it won’t have the network finished until 2020.
For more on how 5G is going to work, hit the link.