Sprint unveiled plans to launch “5G-like” service in six US cities starting in April, as it pushes toward a nationwide deployment of next generation technology in the first half of 2019.
The operator said Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles will be the first to experience increased speed and capacity, as it launches Massive MIMO radios on its network. Those capabilities will be expanded to additional markets, including Atlanta, Houston and Washington DC later this year.
While Massive MIMO in itself is not a 5G technology, Sprint described it as a “critical bridge”, and previously noted the technology offers up to a ten-time increase in sector capacity and eventually speeds of up to 6Gb/s. It added it will use Massive MIMO equipment from Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung, which will be software-upgradeable to 5G.
John Saw, Sprint CTO, said: “Massive MIMO is a game-changer for TDD-LTE networks that’s being used by leading operators around the world to deploy Gigabit LTE and 5G. For more than a year we’ve been testing this new technology, and in a few short weeks we’ll be bringing the power of Massive MIMO to Sprint customers beginning with some of the largest markets in the country.”
Customers with a 2.5GHz-enabled device will benefit from the Massive MIMO boost.
Sprint reiterated it is also working with Qualcomm and device manufacturers to launch 5G mobile devices in the first half of 2019.