LIVE FROM QUALCOMM SNAPDRAGON TECH SUMMIT 2019, HAWAII: Sprint VP of product engineering and development Ryan Sullivan predicted Chinese handset manufacturers would use 5G as a springboard to raise their profile in the US.
Sullivan told Mobile World Live he expects nearly all new premium devices in 2020 to be 5G, with mid-tier offers also starting to appear. He believes this offers an opportunity for Chinese vendors currently supplying inexpensive prepaid devices to move into the post-paid segment.
During 2019, Samsung and LG dominated the US market. In contrast, 2020 will see plays from OnePlus, Lenovo (Motorola) and Xiaomi: “These companies are using 5G and truly mid-tier 5G offerings to try to come into the US market.”
Sullivan said Sprint may not carry all such devices directly, but would consider certifying them to work on its network.
The executive noted while 5G subscribers still represent a small portion of Sprint’s base, the operator was “pleasantly surprised by our customer’s propensity to upgrade to a 5G device” despite a limited number of options.
Customers outside the nine markets where it offers 5G are “showing interest in these devices as well”.
Usage among 5G customers is between 10 per cent and 15 per cent higher than on LTE, which Sullivan attributed to an improved user experience along with Sprint’s decision to bundle gaming and video services in its tariffs.
He said the operator is not refarming legacy spectrum for 5G yet, instead using fresh 2.5GHz airwaves for its initial deployments. But as more users upgrade, he said 800MHz and 1.9GHz spectrum currently used for 2G and 3G will be needed to support 4G and free up the 5G spectrum.
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