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T-Mobile bolsters 5G ambitions in $3.5 billion supplier deal with Ericsson

The 5G race is heating up.

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T-Mobile CEO John Legere has big plans for 5G. 

Roger Cheng/CNET

T-Mobile means business when it comes to 5G. 

The nation's third-largest wireless carrier said Tuesday that it has signed a $3.5 billion, multiyear agreement with Swedish telecom gear supplier Ericsson to support its 5G network deployment. This comes on top of another $3.5 billion deal T-Mobile signed with Nokia in late July. 

It's the latest 5G announcement as wireless carriers ramp up their investments -- and hype -- tied to the next generation of wireless service. The impending arrival of 5G promises to bring a tremendous bump in speed and responsiveness, leading to new services like self-driving cars, streaming virtual and augmented reality, and remote surgeries.

Now playing: Watch this: The race for 5G, and a promise to keep it cheap
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Under the deal, Ericsson will supply 5G New Radio hardware. (Puzzled by the NR reference? Check out this 5G explainer.)

"With this new Ericsson agreement we're laying the groundwork for 5G – and with Sprint we can supercharge the 5G revolution," T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray said in a statement. 

T-Mobile is counting on its planned merger with Sprint, but is awaiting regulatory approval.

On the road to 5G: T-Mobile touts improved LTE coverage across 36 states, Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile...: AT&T 5G network coming to Houston in 2018, LA and San Francisco in 2019.