Sprint announced today that it will be debuting a 5G Mobile Smart Hub in the first half of 2019, thanks to a partnership with HTC and Qualcomm. No specific date was given, other than the first half – which means anything from January 1 to June 30 – but Sprint is planning to have a number of markets live with 5G service by the middle of next year, anyways. Sprint stated in its press release that this "advanced device will deliver multimedia and connected data capabilities in a compact and portable design."Sprint also noted that the majority of the details of this 5G Mobile Smart Hub will be released at a later date. That includes its name, features and specifications.
Together with HTC and Qualcomm Technologies, this new hub is going to have the latest 5G modem from Qualcomm, which is the Snapdragon X50 5G modem. This hub is going to sport 5G service, but also Gigabit LTE, which Sprint launched about a year and a half ago. Sprint's Chief Technology Officer, John Saw stated that "we're excited to continue building our 5G device portfolio and announce another way our customers can be among the first to experience Sprint 5G next year. This innovative product will allow customers on the go, at work or at home to enjoy Sprint 5G on multiple devices with incredibly fast connectivity for content sharing, mobile gaming, entertainment and so much more." HTC is of course excited to be working with Sprint on this device, this is not the first time that Sprint and HTC have worked together on new devices however, Sprint and HTC built the EVO series a few years ago which was a very popular lineup for Sprint. HTC's CEO, Cher Wang stated that "we are thrilled to be working closely with Sprint on this innovative new design.
Sprint expects to have 5G available in nine cities across the country, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C.. The company plans to announce more markets later on, but that is the first wave of markets, which include some of the largest cities in the country. Sprint is using Massive MIMO technology for its 5G strategy and network buildout. Massive MIMO is able to dramatically increase the capacity of Sprint's network and it is also software upgradable to 5G, making it easier to get 5G rolled out.
Background: Sprint, along with the other carriers, are all working hard to get their 5G network rolled out across the US. Now unlike 4G LTE, 5G is really an upgrade to 4G LTE networks, which means that carriers will be able to roll out their networks much faster than 4G LTE was a few years ago. Essentially 5G is going to provide more capacity and faster speeds, which are some of the big talking points about 5G. The fact that the network will be able to handle more connections, also have speeds measured in Gigabits, and latency will be dramatically reduced with 5G. In fact, latency will be so short that self-driving cars will be able to operate from the cloud, in real time. Which means that self-driving cars will need less hardware on-board and look more natural in the future. Companies have also shown off the fact that you'll be able to stream 8K resolution virtual reality in real time over a 5G network. Which is pretty impressive to say the least.
5G is still in the very early stages though, many of the standards have not been finalized yet. But that isn't keeping carriers from jumping on board and announcing its own 5G plans. Some of the standards are expected to be finalized in 2019, but these first 5G networks are going to be mostly fixed networks – especially when talking about Verizon. Essentially replacing its Fios network, which means you will only have 5G at home and not when you are in the car or walking down the street. But T-Mobile and Sprint are planning on doing a mobile 5G network first, because they are not worried about being first, and instead want to build something that will benefit their customers more. Which a mobile 5G network will definitely work better for its customers than a fixed 5G network.
Impact: Verizon has already announced, and started selling its 5G hotspot, and AT&T is also selling one that they made with NETGEAR. Though AT&T's is for a mobile 5G network while Verizon's is for a fixed 5G network. Now Sprint is jumping on board with a 5G Mobile Smart Hub, and using HTC which is not a huge surprise here. Sprint and HTC have partnered up in the past on a number of smartphones and even some tablets. So the partnership was already there, and it could help HTC get closer to turning a profit. Though, it's unlikely that this hub is going to be a big seller for Sprint, considering Sprint is the fourth largest carrier in the US right now. Now Sprint is saying that this is a "smart" hub for a mobile 5G network, which means that it could work with your smart home products or something similar. Sprint hasn't given much detail in terms of this hub, but it could do some interesting stuff.
This 5G Mobile Smart Hub from Sprint and HTC is going to be a rather interesting one, when it comes out next year. It is just the latest announcement from Sprint, as it is looking to get a portfolio of 5G devices ready for when its 5G network is available next year. It had already announced that it is working with LG to create a 5G smartphone that will work on its network. Now that smartphone will not be the first 5G smartphone, since the Moto Z3 is technically a 5G smartphone – if you buy the 5G Moto Mod that isn't yet available. But it should be an interesting one, and soon, that's going to be a feature – whether or not it has 5G connectivity.