This follows earlier commercial launches in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Kansas City. Sprint’s True Mobile 5G network now covers 2,100 square miles with 11 million people expected to be covered in total across all nine market areas in the coming weeks, giving Sprint the largest initial 5G coverage footprint in the United States, according to the company.
The average 5G download speed, according to Ookla Speedtest Intelligence data, is 203.8 Mbps, nearly six times faster than Sprint’s average LTE download speed of 35.2 Mbps.
At the foundation of Sprint’s 5G is the use of Massive MIMO antennas. In Phoenix, Sprint is using 64T64R (64 transmitters 64 receivers) 5G Massive MIMO radios from Nokia. These radios support a feature called split-mode that enables Sprint to simultaneously deliver LTE Advanced and 5G New Radio (NR) service. Sprint’s 5G Massive MIMO radios run on its 2.5 GHz mid-band spectrum, and they are deployed on Sprint’s existing 4G cell sites, providing a nearly identical footprint for both 2.5 GHz LTE and 5G NR coverage.
“Today’s 5G launch in Phoenix has been over a year in the making as we’ve collaborated with Sprint on the deployment of Nokia’s Massive MIMO and 5G innovations,” said Ricky Corker, Nokia President of Customer Operations for the Americas. “Our collaboration has required significant expertise and stringent testing to ensure a high quality, high performing network that can deliver the anticipated 5G services to Sprint’s customers.”
Some 5G Upgrades Delayed at T-Mobile
Meanwhile T-Mobile has notified some of wireless infrastructure contractors that its purchase orders for new builds and 5G upgrades are being put on hold until 2020, according to WirelessEstimator. One mid-sized contractor is on the hook for $700,000.
T-Mobile’s 5G network build plans do not appear to have changed, however. It is simply adjusting its expenditures to meet network expansion goals and fiscal commitments. The carrier’s FY 2019 cash capex guidance is expected to be at the very high end of $5.8 to $6.1 billion.
“We are managing capital expenditures as we do every year, and we continue to invest billions to build out our network aggressively, expanding LTE coverage and performance while simultaneously laying the foundation for broad, nationwide 5G in 2020. That hasn’t and won’t change,” a T-Mobile spokesperson said in an email to eDigest.