Sprint Will Launch ‘5G-like’ Service in Six U.S. Cities Starting This April

Sprint 5g Credit: Sprint
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The race to rollout 5G is heating up. Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T have already announced their 5G plans, and today, Sprint announced its own.

Sprint said it will roll out “5G-like capabilities” across three U.S. cities starting in April, including Chicago, Dallas and Houston. By the end of the year, the telecom company will roll out similar service in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Houston.

That “5G-like” capability will rely on advanced network technology called Massive MIMO (multiple input, multiple output), which the firm promises will deliver “up to 10 times the capacity of current LTE systems.” Basically, Massive MIMO will bring much higher data speeds in traffic-dense locations.

But Massive MIMO isn’t technically 5G, hence the “5G-like” descriptor. On the other hand, Massive MIMO networks are compatible with actual 5G networks — which Sprint plans on deploying fully in the first half of next year.

But Massive MIMO will help to lay the groundwork for true 5G service. By using multiple antennas, the technology provides better throughput and spectrum efficiency — meaning customers will see higher data speeds without congestion.

Last year, Sprint showed off its Massive MIMO system at Mobile World Conference, demonstrating how the tech could allow for multi-gigabit data speeds over a standard LTE network. In other words, rolling out Massive MIMO is just Sprint’s first step to getting their infrastructure 5G-ready.

“Our deep spectrum position gives us an incredible advantage no other carrier has in the U.S.,” Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said of the firm’s latest breakthroughs.

Starting in April, any Sprint customer in those U.S. cities with a 2.5GHz device will be able to take advantage of the Massive MIMO technology. That includes many flagship smartphones currently on the market, including the iPhone 6 and newer.

5G technology is largely expected to revolutionize the way we use the internet and technologies that rely on it. With reliable, ultrafast broadband connections, 5G will likely pave the way for virtual and augmented reality, cloud robotics, telemedicine, better artificial intelligence, and self-driving vehicles.

But Sprint isn’t the only telecom firm in the U.S. with 5G plans. AT&T is launching its first actual 5G networks in three U.S. cities by the end of 2018. Verizon and T-Mobile have similar plans, though AT&T (and even Sprint) might beat them to the punch.

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