AUSTIN, Texas — It’s a tough balancing act for today’s wireless operators. On one hand, they want to build enthusiasm for 5G technology. On the other hand, they want to keep their 5G network plans close to the vest to keep the competition at bay.
Perhaps that explains why operators are slowly revealing the cities where they will launch 5G services. Verizon, which plans to launch 5G in three to five markets this year, announced today that Los Angeles will be its second 5G market. The operator revealed in March that Sacramento, California, would be its first 5G market.
Speaking today at the 5G North America event here, Nicola Palmer, chief network engineering officer and head of wireless networks at Verizon, said that the company is pushing ahead with its pre-standard fixed 5G deployment after testing it in 11 markets across the country. She added that the company believes that it’s important to have a first mover advantage because it creates an expertise in engineering that “puts us in the best position to deploy this technology.”
Sprint also revealed three more of its planned 5G markets. The company plans to deploy mobile 5G in the first half of 2019. The newly announced launch markets are New York City; Phoenix; and its hometown of Kansas City, Kansas. Those cities join the markets Sprint announced earlier this year that include Atlanta; Chicago; Dallas and Houston, Texas; Los Angeles; and Washington, D.C.
Sprint is planning to launch its 5G service using the company’s mid-band 2.5 GHz spectrum. According to Kevin Crull, chief strategy officer at Sprint, the 5G markets will launch with a 5G smartphone that will support 5G, 4G LTE, and 3G.
Crull was spouting the mantra of T-Mobile executives that are trying to overcome skepticism about the company’s proposed acquisition of Sprint by appealing to the Trump Administration’s fears that China may be taking a lead over the U.S. in technology and innovation. “Sprint on its own in the U.S. can build a leading network. But by ourselves won’t have a globally leading 5G network. We won’t unless we are with T-Mobile,” Crull said.
T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint is supposed to be approved no later than early 2019, which means, if approved, the two companies will have to scurry to combine forces and deploy 5G in the first half of the year.
Photo: Kevin Crull, chief strategy officer at Sprint, talks about the company’s 5G plans at the 5G North America event in Austin, Texas.