- Sprint will make commercial standards-based 5G service available starting in May, the company announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
- Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and Kansas City, MO will be among the first cities to get service by May, with Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington DC also getting 5G in the first half of the year. All told, Sprint expects to have 5G coverage in 1,000 square miles across its nine launch cities.
- The announcement also comes as Sprint advocates for its proposed merger with T-Mobile. In a statement, CEO Michel Combes said, "When combined with T-Mobile, we will be able to roll out 5G in more places, more quickly, building an incredible nationwide 5G network that reaches underserved communities, accelerates competition and drives new levels of U.S. innovation and progress."
Sprint has not shared much detail about how the network would look, or what speed will be available to consumers in the initial launch. The Verge reports Sprint did not want to share speed information on a call, with chief technology officer John Saw saying he wanted to focus on the “experience.” Sprint will rely on its mid-band spectrum, a step up from current LTE coverage but not as far-reaching as the millimeter wave coverage other telecoms will focus on.
Sprint also announced that it would partner with Google Fi to provide 5G, although information on compatible phones has not been released.
The announcement follows the slow rollout of 5G by competitors such as AT&T, which has only made it available through a mobile hotspot device, and Verizon, which launched home broadband with 5G technology.
The announcement also comes amid increasing scrutiny of the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile, which both companies have said will greatly accelerate the speed and scope of 5G coverage. Senate Democrats this month signed a letter warning the merger would in fact raise prices and reduce competition that might otherwise mean better 5G coverage, and House Democrats have held multiple hearings on the subject. The Trump administration is still weighing the merger, but both Sprint and T-Mobile likely will continue their 5G push independent of that decision.