Sprint's Initial 5G Cities Will Get 4G Massive MIMO First

Sprint says its newly named 5G cities -- Chicago; Dallas; Los Angeles; Atlanta; Houston; and Washington, DC -- will get LTE "Massive MIMO" updates this year as the stepping stone to 5G upgrades in 2019.

Like T-Mobile US Inc. at Mobile World Congress, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) is focusing its attentions on a number of specific major cities that have been earmarked for its 5G launches. This contrasts with the rather limited rollout details that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) have announced so far. (See AT&T Reveals Initial 5G Cities, T-Mobile to Roll Out 5G in 30 US Cities in 2018 and 5G in the USA: Where We At? for more.)

Sprint plans to launch mobile 5G services in the first half of 2019, and will achieve this with a software upgrade to the networks that are set to get the Massive MIMO updates this year. In Sprint's case, it will use its 2.5GHz spectrum for both LTE and 5G, running both together as it will need to support dual-connectivity as specified by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) . (See Sprint Says Massive MIMO, Coming in 2018, Is the Bridge to 5G.)

Sprint is planning to deploy 64 transmitter and 64 receiver (64T64R) antenna arrays for its massive MIMO updates: It is using Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Samsung Corp. for those updates. It demonstrated download speeds of more than 600 Mbit/s in an early display of the technology in New Orleans in March 2017. (See Gigabit LTE: Sprint's MIMO Gras in New Orleans .)

Watch this Sprint video on the updates:

Sprint CTO John Saw told Light Reading this week that expectations that commercial 5G smartphones would become commercially available just after Mobile World Congress 2019 were "aggressive" but possible.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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