Sponsored By

5G in the USA: Where We At?

Hint: Don't expect much action before the final three months of this year.

Dan Jones

February 7, 2018

3 Min Read
5G in the USA: Where We At?

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

About the Author(s)

Dan Jones

Mobile Editor

Dan is to hats what Will.I.Am is to ridiculous eyewear. Fedora, trilby, tam-o-shanter -- all have graced the Jones pate during his career as the go-to purveyor of mobile essentials.

But hey, Dan is so much more than 4G maps and state-of-the-art headgear. Before joining the Light Reading team in 2002 he was an award-winning cult hit on Broadway (with four 'Toni' awards, two 'Emma' gongs and a 'Brian' to his name) with his one-man show, "Dan Sings the Show Tunes."

His perfectly crafted blogs, falling under the "Jonestown" banner, have been compared to the works of Chekhov. But only by Dan.

He lives in Brooklyn with cats.

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like