US operator Sprint claimed to have the largest initial 5G footprint in the country, as it became the third operator to offer next generation service to its customers.
The operator said its 5G network currently covers 150 square miles in Atlanta; 575 square miles in Dallas-Fort Worth; 165 square miles in Houston; and 225 square miles in its hometown of Kansas City.
It added it plans to expand 5G coverage to Chicago; Los Angeles; New York City; Phoenix; and Washington, DC by the end of June. Across all nine markets, Sprint said it will cover approximately 2,180 square miles and 11.5 million people.
CEO Michel Combes heralded the launch as a “momentous day” for the operator.
Service is initially available on two devices, the LG V50 ThinQ 5G and HTC 5G Hub, though a third option (Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G) will be released in the coming months.
Sprint’s $80 per month Unlimited Premium tariff will give customers access to the 5G network with 100GB of hotspot data, as well as Hulu, Amazon Prime, Twitch Prime, Tidal and three months of Hatch’s cloud gaming service.
CTO John Saw said on a call with journalists users can expect to see speeds about five-times faster than those available on LTE (based on a typical LTE speed of 30Mb/s), though peak speeds could reach as high as 1Gb/s.
“We’re trying to set a realistic expectation. We’re actually seeing better than that.”
Drive testing conducted during a demonstration in Dallas on Thursday morning (30 May) yielded speeds in the hundreds of Mb/s, with peak speeds between 600Mb/s and 700Mb/s, he added.
Unlike rival 5G networks from AT&T and Verizon which use mmWave spectrum, Sprint’s iteration runs on its 2.5GHz assets and uses a combination of 64×64 massive MIMO and dual connectivity technologies.
Saw said in a statement Sprint’s use of mid-band spectrum allows it to deliver an experience that “isn’t limited to small pockets of mmWave 5G coverage”.
The operator’s massive MIMO radios come with support for split mode, allowing it to allocate spectrum to both 5G and LTE from the same equipment. Saw said the operator will use up to 120MHz of spectrum in each city, with 60MHz dedicated to LTE and between 40MHz and 60MHz for 5G.
Additionally, the use of dual connectivity technology will enable user devices to maintain constant contact with both the 4G and 5G networks simultaneously, providing customers the benefit of capacity from both, he said.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back