AT&T and Verizon may have been the first to activate their 5G wireless networks in the United States, but Sprint is looking to have the broadest coverage (to date) available to the largest number of Americans with its initial rollout. Sprint is launching its 5G service in the following major metropolitan areas: Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Kanas City.
Unlike AT&T and Verizon, which have embraced millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum from their 5G rollouts, Sprint is using Ericsson-provided 64T64R (64 transmitters 64 receivers) 5G Massive MIMO radios that support split-mode. Split-mode allows the wireless carrier to deliver both 4G LTE and 5G NR service at the same time, all from existing 4G LTE cell sites.
As a result, Sprint's 5G NR coverage -- which makes use of mid-band 2.5GHz spectrum -- will offer the same wireless coverage as its existing 4G LTE towers. This is a dramatic (and better performing) departure from the current mmWave-only competition which offers 5G at an incredibly short range.
"We’re thrilled to offer the first truly mobile 5G network experience in the U.S. with innovative devices from some of the world’s leading manufacturers," said Sprint CTO Dr. John Saw. "With Massive MIMO and our mid-band spectrum, Sprint customers will have a great experience that isn’t limited to small pockets of millimeter wave 5G coverage."
At the moment, Sprint doesn’t exactly offer a wide selection of devices that are 5G-capable. Right now, the only two smartphones that are available on the network are the LG V50 ThinQ 5G and the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G. The 5G smartphones will require Sprint's Unlimited Premium plan, which costs $80 per month with AutoPay enabled. Sprint throws everything but the kitchen sink in with this plan including Hulu, Amazon Prime, Twitch Prime, Tidal Hi-Fi and 100GB of LTE mobile hotpot data.
For those that want to add 5G to a laptop on-the-go, the HTC 5G Hub is a mobile hotspot that Sprint offers its customers. The cost of the HTC 5G Hub is $12.50 per month (24-month installment plan), while customers will get 100GB of 5G data at a price of $60/month.
In addition to the four aforementioned markets it is currently serving, Sprint will expand its coverage to Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. "in the coming weeks."