Sprint expands 5G rollout despite tech hurdles - Mobile World Live

Sprint expands 5G rollout despite tech hurdles

28 AUG 2019

Sprint executives blamed difficulty nailing down a key technology called dual connectivity for delays in its 5G plan, as the operator launched service in four more cities.

At an event announcing deployments in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington DC and Phoenix, Arizona, Sprint CTO John Saw said the operator completed construction of 5G cell sites for its nine initial markets in the first half of the year. However, he said perfecting the dual connectivity element was “really tricky” and a “tough slog”.

Dual connectivity allows consumer devices to simultaneously receive both 4G and 5G signals to boost coverage and capacity.

“That is really hard to do, as we learned. It’s like trying to catch two flying balls at the same time in one glove, and do it correctly a billion times a second…The nine markets we launched are also our largest markets for LTE usage, so we did not want to screw up the LTE experience.”

Sprint originally planned to launch all nine 5G markets within the first half of the year, but only managed five before that deadline lapsed.

CEO Michel Combes dismissed the delay, arguing it “doesn’t really change anything we’re trying to achieve”. He added: “What’s the point to launch if you don’t have coverage, devices or the right experience in terms of games and entertainment? Now we have all that together.”

Mobile gaming
Sprint announced the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G will be the fourth device in its next generation line up. It also said customers on its Unlimited Premium tariff will get a free three-month subscription to Hatch’s cloud gaming service.

Ryan Sullivan, Sprint’s VP of product engineering and development, said the operator identified mobile gaming as an early 5G use case.

“5G is perfect for mobile gaming because…you can consume massive amounts of streaming data without having to load up the memory on the device.”

He added as the 5G network starts to mature, the operator can add more bandwidth for an even better gaming experience, as well as support for augmented and virtual reality options.

Combes said Sprint’s 5G network now covers 2,100 square miles and 11 million people. He said the operator will continue to strengthen existing next generation markets in the back half of the year, but did not reveal any new launch targets.



Diana Goovaerts

Diana is Mobile World Live's US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana came to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and CED Magazine, digital-only...

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