In short: Sprint and Nokia’s 5G partnership is continuing with a new experiment based on Massive MIMO antennas – the first 5G New Radio connection relying on the thereof in the United States. The companies will be demonstrating the solution at the latest edition of Mobile World Congress Americas which is scheduled to start in Los Angeles tomorrow and will run until Friday. Both believe the technology in question will play an integral role in Sprint’s 5G deployment efforts planned to begin next year.
Background: The connection Sprint will be showcasing at the Californian event will use Nokia’s AirScale Base Station and a Massive MIMO Active Antenna with dual-mode support, both of which have been offered to the Finnish company’s clients for the better part of this year. Sprint still won’t be showing a real-world 5G application at the trade show given how the test will involve what’s effectively a smartphone emulator instead of an actual device prototype. More practical tests are still likely to follow shortly, especially as the firm already enlisted the help of LG on its 5G quest, having confirmed the South Korean manufacturer will be bringing a 5G-ready device to its network in the first half of 2019, with that same timeframe being attached to the planned start of its 5G deployment.
The impact: Even though Sprint’s public 5G tests are yet to become as impressive as what Verizon and AT&T have been showing in recent months, the network operator is now ramping up its efforts to showcase them as much as possible so as to underline the T-Mobile merger pitch it presented earlier this year, with the duo claiming that only combined can they hope to compete in the 5G field with their two better-funded rivals. While the FCC and DOJ aren’t expected to make a decision on the proposal until next spring, Sprint and T-Mobile have to continue pursuing 5G on their own in the meantime, which is likely to become an increasingly difficult task over time, especially once the FCC’s millimeter-wave spectrum auction starts in November and they have to launch individual and possibly redundant bids for additional spectrum licenses.