Sprint Chief Technology Officer John Saw said in a press conference on Monday that 5G will turn on in Chicago, Atlanta, the Dallas-Fort Worth area and the company's hometown of Kansas City. Another five markets -- Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Phoenix and Houston -- will launch by the end of the year.
Sprint is just one of several carriers racing to build out 5G, the next generation of wireless technology that has long been hyped, but is finally coming to reality. 5G is one of the biggest topics of conversation at the MWC Barcelona trade show, with the boost in speed and responsiveness serving as the foundation for other trends such as self-driving cars, telemedicine and streaming virtual reality.
Sprint has been getting the groundwork ready for its 5G service at this show. On Sunday, HTC also announced a 5G-powered hotspot called . It will also carry the ., which will come to Sprint as its first 5G phone.
Sprint also said that Google Fi customers will eventually be able to access its 5G service.
Sprint also said it has partnered with Hatch, which is a 5G-powered mobile gaming service.
The smallest nationwide wireless carrier is still awaiting regulatory approval for its deal to be acquired by larger T-Mobile, which would create a strong No. 3 player to compete against Verizon and AT&T.
First to 5G
Pretty much every carrier claims to be the first to 5G. Sprint Michel Combes insisted several times that the company would be first.
But AT&T has already launched 5G in a dozen markers, while Verizon has a home 5G service. Combes said he sees being first to 5G as offering real coverage with real devices.
"We want to make sure you provide a compelling value proposition," he said.
The company said its total 5G coverage footprint is more than 1,000 square miles across all nine cities. For instance, that includes 30 square miles covering midtown and lower Manhattan, as well as 230 square miles covering the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
That T-Mobile deal
Combes said he still expects to get regulatory approval for the deal, and will close the deal by the first half of the year.
"When you combine T-Mobile and Sprint, we can build the best nationwide 5G network," Combes said.
His comments, however, come amid increasing questions about whether regulators will give the green light. Senators