Samsung has taken to MWC 2018 to reveal a few more details about its cooperation with Sprint to build out the U.S. carrier's 5G-ready network in as many as six cities by April. Of course, the network the carrier is rolling out will not be a 5G network yet and Samsung did not reveal any financial details about the deal. Sprint doesn't plan to implement 3GPP-compliant 5G until early 2019 and Samsung is not its only partner in the endeavor. However, the Korean tech giant did provide some interesting details about which equipment Sprint purchased and how that technology will be used to provide a 5G-like experience for Sprint subscribers in the meantime.
The solutions purchased by Sprint include an array of Samsung's offerings, but Samsung says one of the key components to the buildout will be its newest high-capacity digital unit for massive MIMO. Namely, the Samsung CDU 30 and its associated software will enable Sprint to offer gigabit speeds with support for eMTC and NarrowBand IoT. The new unit cuts in-cabinet space requirements by half because it can replace the currently used digital units with a single 64-transmit and 64-receive radio. That will support both TDD and FDD LTE, vastly improving the performance of the network where it is installed and pushing Sprint's 4G LTE capabilities to the next level. More importantly, Samsung says its massive MIMO access and CDU 30 units are upgradable to 5G NR and provide support for both 4G LTE and 5G NR on the same radio. That will effectively allow Sprint to vastly improve its 4G network and then to switch on 5G later once that rollout is completed and 5G-enabled smartphones are commercialized.
For Sprint's part, the service provider says that it's happy to be working with Samsung's technologies and that they will allow the company to maximize the use of its existing spectrum holdings. In fact, Samsung's hardware and software solutions will play an integral role, the company says, in continuing to offer unlimited data at Gigabit LTE and 5G speeds, as well as supporting 5G services across the board. Other national carriers in the U.S. also vowed to start large-scale 5G deployment next year.