Sprint today launched its 5G network in Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Kansas City. In addition to the initial launch markets, Sprint will bring 5G to Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. in the months ahead.
The company joins AT&T and Verizon Wireless in the 5G era, which is now fully underway. Where AT&T and Verizon are banking on mmWave spectrum from the onset, Sprint is relying on its tried-and-true 2.5GHz spectrum to get the ball rolling. Sprint believes this gives it a leg up on the competition, given the company’s deep familiarity with 2.5GHz and its performance characteristics.
Sprint claims to have the largest initial 5G footprint of any U.S. carrier, with 5G up and running across some 1,115 square miles covering 3.6 million people.
In Dallas-Fort Worth today, Sprint 5G reaches across 575 square miles blanketing some 1.6 million people. Atlanta now enjoys coverage across 150 square miles over 565,000 people, Houston offers coverage across 165 square miles and 800,000 people, and Kansas City covers 225 square miles and 625,000 people.
Once these markets are joined by the second wave of cities, Sprint says it will cover more than 2,200 square miles and 11.5 million people with 5G. AT&T and Verizon have yet to provide hard coverage details for their respective 5G networks.
Sprint has not detailed how swiftly it will expand beyond these nine markets, though its executives implied it will depend on whether the company’s proposed merger with T-Mobile is allowed to proceed.
Sprint partnered with LG and HTC for its first two 5G devices. The LG V50 ThinQ is the first smartphone and the HTC Hub is the first mobile hotspot to have access to Sprint’s 5G service. Both LG and HTC announced their respective hardware earlier this year and the both go on sale at Sprint stores on May 31 in the launch markets. Pricing for these two devices wasn’t immediately made clear.
Ericsson played a major role in bringing Sprint’s 5G network to life. Fredrik Jejdling, executive vice president and head of business area networks at Ericsson, said the U.S. market is key to its long-term growth. Ericsson engineered the cell-site hardware that makes Sprint’s 5G a reality.
For now, Sprint customers who buy 5G devices can expect to see average 5G speeds in the 190Mbps range, with peaks as high as 1Gbps. Sprint is more concerned with the average download speed rather than the peak speed, as that’s what will deliver the day-to-day experience it wants customers to enjoy.
Perhaps most importantly, Sprint’s 5G network is mobile, meaning customers can have continuous coverage as they move around the launch markets. Sprint believes this will be a meaningful differentiator between it at AT&T/Verizon.
We look forward to putting Sprint’s 5G network to the test. Stay tuned to Android Authority.