LOS ANGELES – Sprint is very confident that its 5G spectrum plans will leave a sour taste in the mouth of its rivals.
During a press conference at this week’s Mobile World Congress Americas event in Los Angeles, Sprint CTO John Saw said the company’s rivals were “trying to make 5G lemonade out of the lemons that they have. ” Saw was referring to Verizon and AT&T using millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum for their initial 5G launch plans. Saw said that the coverage limitations of mmWave spectrum has made those operators focus more on limited mobility deployment plans.
Sprint remains on track to commercially launch mobile 5G services in nine markets early next year. Those initial markets include New York City; Phoenix; Kansas City, Kansas; Atlanta; Chicago; Dallas and Houston, Texas; Los Angeles; and Washington, D.C.
Saw said that Sprint plans to use around 60 megahertz of its 2.5 GHz spectrum to support those 5G services. He noted that the 2.5 GHz spectrum band provides better coverage from the same cell site than the mmWave bands being used by Verizon and AT&T.
As an example, Saw said that Sprint’s initial 5G deployment plans in Phoenix will cover more than 226 square miles and 2 million people. “This is not just hot spots,” he said.
5G Spectrum and MIMO
Sprint is still several months away from officially launching its 5G network. But it’s working with all three of its major 5G network vendor partners on massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) antenna deployments that will allow the carrier to just “flip a switch to enable 5G.” Those partners include Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung.
That switch will turn those 5G-enabled sites into dual networks supporting both its legacy 4G LTE services and its new network. Spectrum resources on those sites will initially be split evenly between 4G LTE and 5G, with enough left over to support expansion.
Sprint CTO John Saw showing off one of the carrier’s MIMO antennas.
Saw said that dual support will be important as it will need to provide a robust LTE network in addition to the 5G service to handle when a customer might fall back from a 5G connection to 4G. Most of the carrier’s current LTE “tonnage,” or the data transported across its network, runs on its 2.5 GHz spectrum.
Sprint recently released $1 billion in purchase orders primarily for equipment related to its MIMO deployment.
Sprint CTO John Saw talks about the company’s 5G deployment plans at the 2018 Mobile World Congress Americas conference.