Sprint on Tuesday announced the first six cities set to benefit from the company's next-generation wireless network, having confirmed Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. will be encompassed by its initial 5G deployment wave. Whereas Verizon is presently prioritizing 5G fixed wireless access solutions, Sprint's first target is a traditional, fully mobile network, with the company previously stating such technology is "so much better." Large-scale buildouts in the half a dozen newly announced cities will begin in the first half of 2019, the company said.
Testbeds in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Dallas will be used for deploying Sprint's Massive MIMO technology later this year, whereas Houston, Washington D.C., and Atlanta will follow suit before the end of the year. The initial deployment is already expected to deliver improved speeds but is primarily being conducted in order to densify Sprint's network in preparation for the actual 5G rollout in 2019. No specific number of new radio antennas Sprint is planning to install in the coming months has been disclosed, with the firm only stating "thousands" of new stations are meant to spring to life as part of its latest wireless effort. Massive MIMO deployment in the first six target cities will continue throughout 2019 even as Sprint starts rolling out its next-generation network, the company revealed. No specific applications have yet been confirmed to be launching simultaneously with the new network that's otherwise promising to enable a wide variety of new products, services, and even entire businesses. Instead, Sprint is initially focusing on touting the improved speeds, latencies, and capacity as the main selling point of its latest service, much like it did with previous generations of the technology.
Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure described the development as an important step in the company's mission to become the first wireless carrier in the U.S. to deploy a 5G mobile network, with Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile already pledging to pursue the same goal. AT&T is expected to win the 5G race in terms of actually launching a 5G service as early as this year, though consumers likely won't be able to leverage it with traditional smartphones and will instead have to use "pucks" while they're waiting for the first 5G-ready handsets to be commercialized in early 2019. By that time, all four national carriers may be offering 5G connectivity in select markets, though countrywide coverage isn't expected to be achieved until 2020.