As the race to deploy blazingly-fast broadband wireless continues heating-up between the world’s largest regional telecom providers and equipment-makers, one of the most unlikely contenders of the pack this week announced a milestone achievement in its bid to capture a slice of the 5G market.
Through cooperation with equipment manufacturers Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies, Sprint on Thursday announced its successful completion of the world’s first over-the-air 5G data transmission (via its newly-employed 2.5 GHz [plus] multiple-input and multiple-output ‘MIMO’ technology) in San Diego, California.
“This is a big step forward – Sprint 5G is now out of the lab and in the field as we prepare for our commercial launch in the first half of this year,” said Sprint Chief Technology Officer, Dr. John Saw. “We’re making great progress towards giving Sprint customers the first mobile 5G experience in nine top cities with the first 5G smartphone in the U.S.”
According to Sprint’s announcement, the call was conducted via the carrier’s commercial 3GPP 5G network — utilizing its 2.5 GHz spectrum, Nokia’s dual-mode “AirScale Massive MIMO radio,” and a concept smartphone device equipped with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon X50 5G modem.
Ultimately, as it relates to activities like streaming video, conducting audio and video calls, and sending and receiving Messages, Sprint’s successful test demonstrates “a seamless transition of connectivity” between its 4G LTE Advanced, and 5G networks, the company noted.
“Today’s announcement marks a major milestone in 5G commercialization using sub-6 GHz spectrum, which provides wide area and high-performance connectivity,” said Durga Malladi, Senior Vice President and General Manager of 4G/5G with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “We look forward to continue working with Sprint and Nokia in bringing high-capacity and multi-gigabit 5G networks to consumers in 2019.”
Sprint’s successful test this week, while significant on its own merits, is merely the latest of the carrier’s reported 5G milestones, following its late-December achievement of completing the first 5G data transmission (over the same 2.5 GHz wireless network) from inside its Reston, Virginia R&D lab.
According to the press release, Sprint is currently on-track to launch its blazing-fast 5G service within the first half of 2019 — albeit in just nine major cities, to start. They include: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C., where the company says it plans to offer “contiguous coverage in the downtown area” for its “highly mobile, on-the-go customers.”
Of course, while Sprint may be charging full-speed ahead with its 5G deployment plans, it’s certainly not the only carrier working to be the first [and the best] in 5G. Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile and many others are locked, loaded and already going with their 5G plans, too, and the first commercially-available 5G devices should hit the market sometime this year.