Sprint, Verizon to Sell 5G Phones Nationwide

Mike Dano
7/12/2019
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Sprint and Verizon confirmed they would sell their 5G phones across all of their retail stores, not just in the cities where they currently offer 5G services. Wave7 Research, which closely tracks US operators' pricing and promotional efforts, first reported the news.

T-Mobile, on the other hand, said it would continue to offer its 5G devices only in the markets where its service is available.

It should also be noted that Verizon continues to feature its 5G service in its nationwide advertising, according to Wave7. For example, TV advertisement monitoring company iSpot reported that Verizon has issued a handful of 5G advertisements in thousands of nationwide airings over the past few months. Wave7 also reported that Verizon's 5G advertising efforts stretch into its retail stores, including in areas where the company does not currently sell 5G connections. Sprint's 5G advertising so far has remained cordoned off to the markets where it offers 5G service.

Sprint, for its part, recently switched on its 5G services in parts of Chicago, and now offers 5G in parts of Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Kansas City. Sprint said it would launch 5G in areas of Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. in the coming weeks. After those launches, the operator said it would cover 2,100 square miles and 11 million people in total across its nine 5G markets. Sprint has affixed the "True Mobile 5G" marketing tagline to its efforts.

Verizon, meanwhile, offers 5G service in Chicago, Minneapolis and a handful of other cities. The operator said it will expand the service to parts of roughly 30 markets this year.

That Sprint and Verizon are nationwide with sales of their 5G phones -- which include the LG V50 ThinQ 5G and the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G -- isn't a major surprise. It's likely easier for the operators to handle the sales and logistics of a nationwide device offering rather than several regional offerings, and the gadgets can support both 5G and LTE. And though neither Sprint nor Verizon has outlined nationwide 5G launch plans, it's reasonable to expect the operators to eventually expand 5G nationwide.

Indeed, 5G in 2019 is certainly suffering from a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem: Operators are rushing to switch on 5G services, device makers are keen to sell new 5G devices and retail store employees are likely hoping to cash in on all the 5G noise -- but someone must inevitably take the first step. Further, there's little doubt the problem will be resolved in the months and years to come as 5G expands further across the country.

All that said, mobile shoppers eyeing 5G products here in the middle of 2019 probably should wait for the space to mature.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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