5G in the USA: Where We At?

Dan Jones
2/7/2018
100%
0%

The first live commercial 5G markets are still months away, with widespread rollout of the new wireless technology not expected until 2019 or 2020, yet we have a clearer picture of the big four US mobile operators' 5G plans than we did at the end of 2017.

So let's run through what we know:

AT&T
What: Mobile 5G using the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 5G New Radio (NR) standard, with fixed 5G in trials
Where: 12 as yet unnamed markets in the US
When: Late 2018
Frequencies: TBD
Suppliers (known so far): Qualcomm
Devices: A mobile "puck"
Capex plan for 2018: $23 billion

For more:
AT&T Joins 5G Marketing War, Promising 'Mobile' Launch in 2018
AT&T's 'Mobile' 5G: What the Puck?
AT&T's Mobile 5G Plan Leaves as Many Questions as Answers

Sprint
What: Mobile 5G using the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 5G New Radio (NR) standard
Where: "Nationwide" with a software upgrade to "5G-ready" equipment
When: First half of 2019
Frequencies: 2.5GHz
Suppliers (known so far): Ericsson, Qualcomm
Devices: Smartphones
Capex plan for 2018: $5 billion-$6 billion

For more:
Sprint Promises Mobile 5G in H1 2019, Signals More Job Cuts
Sprint Teams Up with Cox to Boost Spectrum With Fiber
Sprint Says No to mmWave, Yes to Mobile 5G

T-Mobile US
What: Mobile 5G using the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 5G New Radio (NR) standard
Where: "Nationwide" with a software upgrade to "5G-ready" equipment
When: 2019-2020
Frequencies: 600MHz
Suppliers (known so far): Ericsson, Qualcomm
Devices: Smartphones
Capex plan for 2018:$4.9 billion-$5.3 billion

For more:
T-Mobile CEO: We'll 'Leapfrog' AT&T & Verizon With Mobile 5G
T-Mobile Promises 'Nationwide' 5G in 2020 With New Spectrum
T-Mobile Says Its 600MHz LTE Sites Will Be 5G-Ready

Verizon
What: Fixed 5G using its home-grown 5GTF spec first, with 5G using the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 5G New Radio (NR) standard as soon as possible afterwards
Where: Sacramento, with up to four more markets to follow in 2018
When: Second half of 2018
Frequencies: 28GHz
Suppliers (known so far): Ericsson, Samsung, Qualcomm
Devices: 5G customer premises equipment and home routers
Capex plan for 2018: $17 billion-$17.8 billion

For more:
Verizon Says 'Up to 5' Fixed 5G Markets Will Go Live in 2H18
Ericsson & Samsung to Supply Verizon With Fixed 5G Gear
Verizon Capex to Stay Flat Despite Commercial 5G Launch in 2018

What does this mean in the real world?
The initial phase of 5G will be focused on "enhanced mobile broadband," which essentially means it'll be like 4G, but better, wherever you can get it. Verizon is focused on delivering a 1Gbit/s service but this will likely only be available in very limited areas to begin with. Sprint and T-Mobile, meanwhile, are talking up the coverage possibilities of their spectrum, but won't be able to match the raw speed of millimeter wave 5G, which Verizon has taken to calling "true 5G."

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
kq4ym
50%
50%
kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/16/2018 | 10:47:00 AM
Re: UPDAED
Yes, it does seem that it's going to be enhanced mobile, and where it ends maybe no one knows as the choices in bands and antenna technology change allowing for higher frequencies while searching for the holy grail of smaller and smaller latency and increasing distances between cells. 
DanJones
50%
50%
DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
2/8/2018 | 12:55:56 PM
UPDAED
With T-Mobile's capex numbers
5G Poll
Twitter Feed