Sprint: We're in a unique position to deliver broader 5G

The company says it'll bring 5G capabilities this year to six cities, including Los Angeles and Chicago.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
Expertise Mobile, 5G, Big Tech, Social Media Credentials
  • SABEW Best in Business 2011 Award for Breaking News Coverage, Eddie Award in 2020 for 5G coverage, runner-up National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award for culture analysis.
Roger Cheng
2 min read

Sprint was among the many companies talking up 5G at Mobile World Congress. 


Sprint wants to mount its comeback on the back of 5G.

The fourth-largest US wireless carrier is set to roll out 5G capabilities this year to Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Washington, DC. With a caveat: As with T-Mobile's own deployment this year, Sprint customers won't be able to access 5G until the service launches in 2019.

The news comes on top of Sprint's promise that it will launch a nationwide mobile 5G network early next year -- before any of its rivals. The carriers are falling over themselves talking about their 5G plans, with the hope that their shiny new networks will generate excitement and bolster their reputation for service quality. 5G was a dominant topic of conversation at the Mobile World Congress trade show over the past week.

Sprint believes it has a unique set of assets to bring 5G to more people, more quickly, than its rivals, according to Chief Technology Officer John Saw. In a briefing with reporters at MWC 2018, Saw talked about the advantage of Sprint's high-frequency airwaves, a critical element in delivering higher 5G speeds.

Watch this: What the heck is a 5G network?

Because Sprint has enough 2.5 gigahertz spectrum to cover the nation, Saw said he expects a more consistent 5G experience than what's coming from other carriers, which are experimenting with a higher-frequency spectrum. The general rule for radio airwaves is that higher frequency means better speed, but shorter range.

"The 5G experience from Sprint will be more uniform," he said. "There will be more sites with a bigger footprint."

Sprint isn't the only one utilizing different bands of spectrum to offer a better experience. T-Mobile said it will employ a lower-band spectrum running at 600 megahertz, as well as a mix of mid- and high-band spectrum, to build its 5G network. 

Verizon is expected to launch commercial service in at least one market -- Sacramento, California -- later this year, while AT&T has promised that its network will run on "pucks," or wireless hotspots, by the end of 2018. 

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