Sprint is prepared to fully embrace 5G-enabled (Android) smartphones by 2021, Chief Executive Officer Marcelo Claure said last week, having stated that all new handsets offered by the wireless carrier from that year onward will be capable of communicating with the next generation of wireless networks. The comment was made in response to a recent Gartner survey that predicted only nine-percent of all smartphones sold in 2021 will support 5G and also serves as a dismissal of a similar study recently conducted by Strategy Analytics which came to nearly identical conclusions.
Sprint itself is currently in the process of ramping up its 5G push and will be leveraging its existing spectrum portfolio and assistance from its parent SoftBank to allow for the next major wireless upgrade in select U.S. cities as early as this year, the company recently said. Sprint repeatedly stated it's prioritizing mobile 5G over fixed wireless access solutions pursued by Verizon as it believes such technologies are of much greater interest to the majority of customers, suggesting it doesn't have any immediate plans for FWA. The Overland Park, Kansas-based telecom giant is seeking to start large-scale 5G buildouts by early 2019 and offer nationwide coverage come 2020, with its 5G commitment pledge thus being similar to those made by its rivals.
With the recent spending bill that allows for new millimeter-wave spectrum auctions being signed into law by President Trump on Friday, the U.S. wireless industry should soon have everything it needs to allow for the deployment of next-generation wireless connectivity across the country, though the issue of compatible handsets still remains. Without devices capable of leveraging the new standard, the lower latencies and higher capacities promised by the technology will remain inaccessible to the average consumer. Sprint has so far been vague on its plans to support the release of 5G-enabled smartphones, having only said it's seeking to start offering them from early 2019 in partnership with a "leading Korean manufacturer" that most industry watchers believe means Samsung. The company's Galaxy S10 lineup is widely expected to support 5G connectivity enabled by the modem integrated into Qualcomm's next-generation mobile chip that's likely to be called the Snapdragon 855.