You have questions about 5G. We have answers. Our hub page for everything 5G. Learn the basics, learn what matters and what doesn't, we answer your questions about safety, and all of the latest 5G news in one place.
Intro to 5G Series:
If you follow tech at all, you've probably been hearing about 5G for a while. If you've managed to avoid the 5G hype so far, brace yourself; the 5G hype machine is just warming up. So what is 5G? Should you care? How does it work?
5G is a new radio technology, so naturally those most concerned about environmental health have been asking if it's safe. There's a lot of science on the subject, and also a lot of pseudo-science. We try to cut through the bull to explain the safety issues with radio waves in general, cell phones in particular, and what makes 5G different.
For the phone industry, 5G is essential. And since they're spending billions on it, they want to justify that expense by getting you, the consumer, excited about it, too. But how will it actually impact you? Do you need a 5G phone? Should you care about 5G in 2019 or 2020?
Important Glossary Terms:
Recent 5G News:
T-Mobile has officially completed its merger with Sprint. For the moment, the merger has little effect on customers, but "Sprint" lives only as a brand of T-Mobile, not a separate company. As of today, Sprint is no longer trading under its own symbol on the stock exchange. Current Sprint customers can keep their plans for the near future. As a condition of regulatory approval, T-Mobile has committed to not raise prices for three years. But over time, the Sprint brand will be replaced by T-Mobile. The companies have been making technical preparations for the merger since it was announced. Most new phones introduced by Sprint and T-Mobile in the past year are capable of accessing both networks, ensuring a smoother transition. The companies have already announced expanded roaming for Sprint customers on the T-Mobile network, for Sprint customers with those newer phones. While all major US wireless carriers are deploying 5G in both sub-6 GHz and mmWave radio frequencies, the new T-Mobile will have the key advantage of access to mid-band frequencies in the form of Sprint's unique band 41 (2.5 GHz). 5G in this band can offer a unique balance between high speeds (like mmWave) as well as broad coverage (like other sub-6 bands). The company claims that combining the two networks into one will allow the company to offer "14 times more capacity in the next six years than T-Mobile alone has today", "average 5G speeds up to eight times faster than current LTE in just a few years", and "$43 billion in synergies for all shareholders", mostly from "reducing redundant cell sites and rapidly deploying spectrum and other technologies more efficiently." The new company announced plans to invest "$40 billion into its network, business and more over the next three years." The company also announced that Mike Sievert will replace John Legere as T-Mobile CEO effective today, one month earlier than previously announced.
MediaTek has revealed that its first SoC with integrated 5G modem and high-end processor will be called the Dimensity 1000. The company revealed the first set of details on the chip in May. Now that it has a name, MediaTek has revealed additional details of the SoC. It's fabricated using the latest 7nm process and is designed for "premium and flagship" phones. The 5G modem component supports SA (stand-alone) and NSA (non-stand-alone) 5G networks, as well as DSS (Dynamic Spectrum Sharing) that allows 4G and 5G to efficiently share the same frequency band. It also supports 5G carrier aggregation, which enables downlink speeds up to 4.7 Gbps and seamless handovers as users move around. It also supports dual 5G SIMs, which MediaTek claims is a first. The processor part of the chip includes a five-core image signal processor (ISP) to power cameras up to 80 megapixel at 24fps. Its AI processor assists with camera functions, offering features like multi-frame video HDR, which MediaTek claims is another first. The chip also supports Full HD+ displays with refresh rates up to 120Hz, and 2K+ up to 90Hz. The Dimensity 1000 only supports 5G in sub-6 GHz frequency bands, not mmWave. By the end of this year, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint will all offer sub-6 GHz 5G networks with broad coverage. The first devices powered by the Dimensity 1000 will ship in the US by the end of this year, which is earlier than previously announced. The new Dimensity brand will include a whole line of chips with integrated 5G.
T-Mobile today announced plans to offer three new programs offering 5G service for free to certain groups, or cheaply for everyone else. The company is promising to launch the programs when and if it is allowed to merge with Sprint. Although the federal government has approved the merger, over a dozen state attorneys general are suing to stop the merger on antitrust grounds, claiming the move would lead to higher prices for consumers. The new programs are:
- Connecting Heroes Initiative: Free unlimited wireless service — including 5G data, talk, and text — for all first responders in the country. This would include every public and non-profit state and local police, fire and EMS first responder agency in the US. T-Mobile is promising to offer this program for 10 years, spending "up to $7.7 billion" on it.
- Project 10Million: In an attempt to address "the homework gap", T-Mobile will offer free mobile hotspots and 100 GB/year of free data to low-income families with children and no home internet access. The company promises to spend $700 million equipping 10 million households with free hardware, and spend $10 billion offering free service for five years.
- T-Mobile Connect: A $15/month prepaid plan available to everyone that offers 2GB of high-speed data plus unlimited talk and text. A step-up plan would offer 5GB of data for $25/month. T-Mobile also commits to increase the data limit of each plan by 0.5 GB every year for the next five years.
T-Mobile has announced December 6th as the launch date for its low-band 5G network, which will use band 71 (600 MHz). The nationwide network will cover more than 200 million Americans and more than 5,000 cities and towns across the country. Unlike mmWave 5G networks that have limited coverage and building penetration, T-Mobile's low-band 5G network uses a frequency band already used for 4G, and will thus offer the same coverage and properties as the 4G network. Sprint is pursuing a similar strategy with its 5G network, and AT&T plans to add low-band to its 5G network in the coming months. T-Mobile has also launched mmWave 5G in parts of Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York. T-Mobile will offer three 5G phones. The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G only supports the mmWave networks. The Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G and OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren only support the new low-band network launching Dec. 6.
When T-Mobile launches low-band 5G later this year, the two phones that support it will also be capable of supporting Sprint's already-launched mid-band 5G network, should the two companies be allowed to merge. The OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren and Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ will both support 5G in bands 71 (T-Mobile's 600 MHz) and 41 (Sprint's 2,500 MHz). Those two phones do not, however, support 5G in the mmWave bands, which T-Mobile has launched in several cities. T-Mobile does sell the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G which supports its mmWave 5G network but not the upcoming low-band network. When T-Mobile launches low-band 5G this year, it will cover 200 million people, far more than any other US 5G network to date.
Sprint today announced that its 5G coverage has expanded to cover 16 million people in the nine cities where it has launched 5G so far, up from 11 million a few months ago.
Sprint today launched 5G service in four new cities, and launched one new 5G phone: The OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, available starting today. In New York City, 5G covers 1.7 million people, and parts of Manhattan from Central Park to the southern tip. It also covers La Guardia and JFK Airports, parts of Flushing and Rockaway Beach in Queens, Red Hook in Brooklyn and Concourse in the Bronx. In New Jersey, Sprint will cover areas of Hudson County including Union City and North Bergen. In Los Angeles, 5G now covers covers approximately 1.2 million people with service available from Marina del Rey to Downtown L.A., and West Hollywood to Culver City. In addition, Sprint 5G is also available in parts of Orange County, Pasadena and Cerritos. In Washington, DC, 5G covers approximately 520,000 people with service available in popular parts of the District, as well as areas of Montgomery County, Arlington, and Fairfax County. In Phoenix, 5G covers approximately 740,000 people with service available across the greater Phoenix metro area with service in parts of Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale and Glendale. The company also announced expanded 5G coverage in existing 5G cities of Kansas City, Dallas-Ft Worth, Atlanta, and Houston. Sprint also announced that its Unlimited Premium plan now includes a free three-month trial of the Hatch game-streaming service. The OnePlus 7 Pro 5G is very similar to the OnePlus 7 Pro, simply with 5G.
The Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G will be the first phone to support sub-6 GHz FDD 5G for T-Mobile and AT&T. However, the AT&T and T-Mobile versions will not support mmWave 5G that offers faster speeds in central areas of major cities, even though the Verizon version will support only mmWave 5G. T-Mobile and AT&T spokespeople have confirmed to Phone Scoop that their versions will not support mmWave. Sub-6 GHz FDD bands (low-band) are the same bands used for 4G service today, and offer broad coverage that mmWave frequencies cannot. T-Mobile and AT&T have announced plans to launch 5G on sub-6 GHz FDD bands later this year. Verizon will be first to sell the Note10+ 5G on August 23rd. Verizon will have an undisclosed period of exclusivity, after which AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint will also offer it. Verizon will charge $1300 for the 256 GB model, available in black, white, or a prismatic "Aura Glow", and $1400 for the 512 GB version, available in black. The 5G and 4G versions of the Note10+ are identical in appearance, size, and features. The only difference is a 2 gram weight difference to account for the 5G components. The Note10 series includes Play Galaxy Link, which lets you stream games from your home PC to your phone, a feature that will benefit greatly from the data speeds and low latency offered by 5G.
Sprint today announced that it will soon offer its first phone from OnePlus, and that it will be a 5G phone. Further details will be announced "soon". OnePlus does offer a 5G version of its newest flagship, the OnePlus 7 Pro, in some markets, including the UK. It only supports sub-6 GHz 5G, the kind Sprint recently launched. OnePlus has not shown interest in developing phones with mmWave 5G the kind deployed so far by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. Prior to this announcement, T-Mobile was the only major US carrier to carry OnePlus phones. Sprint currently offers 5G in areas of Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Kansas City, and the company expects to launch service in areas of Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix and Washington, DC, in "the coming weeks".
Sprint is launching its 5G network in Chicago this week. Utilizing the company's 2.6 GHz (band 41) spectrum, the network offers better coverage and building penetration than the mmWave 5G networks launched by other companies in Chicago to date. The coverage area reaches from the historic IL-64 in the north to Stevenson Expressway in the south, and as far as California Avenue in the west. It covers 700,000 people. Chicago joins Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Kansas City among Sprint's 5G cities, and the company promises to launch 5G in Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington, DC "in the coming weeks". Sprint customers in Chicago will be able to buy a 5G device starting Friday, July 12th. Sprint currently offers the LG V50 ThinQ 5G and Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.
At today's FCC meeting, the Commission voted to approve two actions that will open up four radio frequency bands to new 5G service. Three of the bands are ultra-high mmWave frequencies near 40 GHz, while the fourth is mid-band, near 2.5 GHz. For the three mmWave bands, today's action finalized the rules for Auction 103, which will allow companies to bid on licenses for Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands. Auction 103 will commence on December 10th, 2019. The 39 GHz band was first auctioned off in 2000, with some of those licenses ending up in the hands of Verizon and AT&T via sales and acquisitions. However some 39 GHz licenses remain privately-owned, but unused. Auction 103 will include an incentive auction component to facilitate the sale of those licenses to companies that will use them. The 2.5 GHz band was originally set aside for educational TV broadcast service, which never took off. Today the FCC voted to remove rules requiring the band be owned by education institutions and used for educational purposes. Existing license holders will be able to lease out the spectrum, making it available for commercial 5G. Many licenses in the band remain unsold, which the FCC will auction off, after giving priority to Tribal Nations. The 2.5 GHz band is near the band 41 that Sprint already uses for 5G service. It has better range and building penetration than mmWave bands.
Sprint will offer its second 5G phone — the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G — on June 21 for $1,300. Sprint is offering a $250 discount for customers who pre-order, which is available starting today. Customers choosing a Sprint Flex Lease will pay $40.28 per month after the $13.89/month credit from the $250 discount. The phone is available only in markets where Sprint has launched its 5G network, which currently includes Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Kansas City. 5G markets launching "in the coming weeks" are Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington, DC. The S10 5G joins the LG V50 in Sprint's 5G phone lineup. Sprint also launched the new, mid-range Samsung Galaxy A50 today.
Sprint's 5G network launches tomorrow in Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Kansas City, as previously announced. In the coming weeks, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington, DC will also gain 5G service. At that point, Sprint's 5G network will cover a total of 2,180 square miles and 11.5 million people, the largest 5G coverage area in the US by far. Sprint is using the 2.5 GHz frequency band (band 41) for its initial 5G network, which offers much better coverage and building penetration than the mmWave frequencies that Verizon and AT&T have launched 5G with so far. Sprint also uses band 41 for LTE, and its new Massive MIMO antennas are delivering 4G LTE and 5G NR simultaneously in band 41, with similar coverage for each technology. Sprint's 5G network in Dallas-Fort Worth covers approximately 575 square miles and 1.6 million people. In Houston, Sprint 5G covers approximately 165 square miles and 800,000 people. In Kansas City: 225 square miles and 625,000 people. In Atlanta: 150 square miles and 565,000 people. Sprint's first 5G phone is the LG V50 ThinQ 5G, which goes on sale tomorrow in cities with Sprint 5G service. Sprint will offer the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G later this summer.
Sprint's first 5G phone — the LG V50 ThinQ 5G — will launch on May 31st. Pre-orders start tomorrow, May 17th, and the company is offering special pre-order pricing on the LG V50: 50% off ($24/month with a "Sprint Flex lease"). The company is also offering a 5G mobile hotspot from HTC. Sprint's initial 5G coverage includes Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Kansas City. In "the next few weeks", Sprint will switch on 5G in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix. and Washington, DC. Sprint's initial 5G network uses band 41, which is near 2500 MHz, offering much better coverage and building penetration than the mmWave bands Verizon and AT&T are using for their initial 5G networks. Sprint is offering a free three-month trial of the Hatch game-streaming service on its 5G phones, including the LG V50.
Sprint today released new details of the 5G network it will launch this May and June. Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, and Kansas City will launch in May, while New York City, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Phoenix, and Houston will launch in June. The NYC, LA, and Phoenix networks will each cover over 1 million people. Los Angeles, Phoenix, Houston, Atlanta, Dallas/Ft. Worth, and Kansas City will all launch with over 100 square miles of 5G coverage, up to 270 square miles for the Phoenix area. The LA network will cover from downtown to the coast, The NYC network will cover most of Manhattan, La Guardia airport, and JFK airport. Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung are providing the network equipment. Sprint's first 5G phone will be the LG V50 ThinQ, followed by the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G in the summer.
The LG V50 is the same size as last year's V40, but manages to include both 5G and a larger battery. Most other 5G phones this year are noticeably larger than their 4G counterparts. (The V50 is technically 0.7mm taller and 0.4mm thicker (8.3 vs 7.9mm) than the V40, a difference not obvious in person.) The V50's battery rates 4,000 mAh (compared to 3,300 in the V40). The V50 includes three rear cameras (standard, wide, and tele) plus two on the front (standard and wide). Its quad-HD OLED display measures 6.4 inches. A new vapor-chamber cooling system should reduce processor throttling during gaming sessions. Like the smaller G8, it has a Snapdragon 855 processor, 6 GB RAM, 128 GB built-in storage, stereo speakers, IP68 water resistance, fingerprint reader on the back, Quick Charge 3.0, NFC, stereo speakers, and 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC. It has both a memory card slot and 3.5mm audio jack. Sprint will carry the V50 ThinQ first, this spring, followed by Verizon in the summer.
The tenth edition of Samsung's Galaxy S series of flagship phones includes, for the first time, four different models spanning a range of sizes and price points. Samsung announced the Galaxy S10 series today at an event in San Francisco. In addition to the standard S10 and (larger) S10+ that mirror pervious years' offerings, Samsung also revealed a smaller, cheaper S10e, as well as the S10 5G, which is even larger than the S10+. All of the S10 models include the new, top-end Snapdragon 855 processor, Cat. 20 LTE, a new "Dynamic" AMOLED display with hole-punch design and HDR10+, and two-way wireless charging that can charge other phones or accessories. For photography, they all include the same 12-megapixel main camera as the S9 (with dual-pixel and dual-aperture technology), a 16-megapixel wide-angle camera, and a new 10-megapixel, auto-focus front camera that can record 4K video. All models keep the 3.5mm audio jack, as well as IP68 rating for water-resistance. Most S10 models (the S10e excluded) also have an ultrasonic fingerprint reader embedded in the display, a third camera on the back for telephoto shots, an Infinity Edge display that curves at the sides for thinner bezels, heart rate sensor, and a minimum of 8 GB of RAM / 128 GB built-in storage. The S10 5G also adds 3D depth cameras to both the front and back and 25W fast charging. The S10, S10e, and S10+ go on sale worldwide March 8th, with pre-orders available starting tonight at midnight Eastern time. Those models will be available in the US in Prism Black, Prism White, Prism Blue, and Flamingo Pink (which is based on Pantone's color of the year, Living Coral). Pricing will be the same unlocked and at all major US carriers: The S10e will start at $750, the S10 at $900, and the S10+ at $1,000. Variants with added memory will cost more. All four top US carriers will offer all four models. Those who pre-order the S10 or S10+ will receive a free set of Galaxy Buds fully wireless earbuds (normally $129). Samsung is also offering trade-in deals worth up to $550. The S10 5G will be available in the 2nd quarter, first with Verizon before the middle of the year, followed by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Spectrum, and Xfinity "at a later date this summer." Read on for more details.
AT&T today added Chicago and Minneapolis to its list of cities that will get a true 5G network by the end of this year. That list already includes Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose. The company already has 5G available to a limited group of customers in "parts of" Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Louisville, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh, San Antonio, and Waco. The company plans to launch 5G nationwide by "early 2020". This true (standards-based, mmWave) 5G network is not yet available to most consumers, and no phones have launched yet that support 5G. AT&T is currently running a misleading campaign to promote "5G E", which is actually 4G LTE. Sprint is currently taking AT&T to court over that campaign.
AT&T's marketing of a "5G E" network — which is actually 4G LTE and has nothing to do with 5G technology — now has the company in legal trouble, as Sprint is taking AT&T to court for "false advertising and deceptive acts". AT&T has been marketing "5G E" in large national ad campaigns, as well as updating existing phone software to show a "5G E" indicator for 4G LTE service. Sprint is seeking an injunction to stop these actions, as well as damages caused by the success of AT&T's campaign. According to Sprint, "AT&T’s deceptive ads have harmed consumers by persuading them to purchase or continue purchasing AT&T’s services based on the lie that they are offering 5G." Sprint made its filing in a United States federal court in New York, based on a combination of federal and New York state laws.
Sprint this week reached a milestone toward launching 5G when it successfully tested 5G in the real world, on its network in San Diego. The company used a smartphone test device from Qualcomm and network equipment from Nokia. Sprint's 5G network uses massive MIMO technology in Sprint's unique 2.5 GHz band. Sprint's tests have demonstrated 5G delivering a 4-10x increase in capacity and speed compared to 4G LTE. Sprint plans to launch 5G in nine cities by the middle of the year.
Sprint joined the other top-tier US carriers in committing to sell Samsung's 5G phone next year. AT&T and Verizon have committed to offering the unnamed phone in the first half of next year. Sprint plans to launch the phone in "summer", which likely puts its launch after the other two carriers, although Sprint will offer a 5G phone from LG in the first half of the year. T-Mobile will offer the same Samsung phone, but has only committed to launching it some time in 2019. Sprint's version of the Samsung phone will access 5G in Sprint's 2.5 GHz radio frequency band, as well as 4G LTE in all of Sprint's usual bands. In the first half of 2019 Sprint plans to launch its mobile 5G network in nine cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C., with additional markets to be announced.
Sprint today revealed that it plans to launch a "5G mobile smart hub" at some point during the first half of next year. The device will be made by HTC. Sprint did not share the device's name, features, specs, or launch timing, but did say it will "deliver multimedia and connected data capabilities in a compact and portable design." This implies the device may be something more than a mere mobile hotspot. It will be fast, says Sprint. The device will rely on Qualcomm's Snapdragon X50 5G modem, able to deliver multi-gigabit 5G and gigabit LTE 4G when 5G isn't available. This unnamed HTC mobile smart hub will join a forthcoming 5G smartphone from LG in Sprint's initial lineup of mobile 5G devices. Sprint plans to deploy 5G in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C., during the first half of 2019. More markets will be announced over time. Sprint competitors AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are all following similar timelines for their own 5G launches.
Qualcomm expects to see two major waves of 5G handsets arrive throughout 2019. Speaking at the 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong, Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon said, based on its viewpoint, there will be an initial set of launches along with the arrival of 5G mobile networks themselves. U.S. carriers are expecting to get their 5G mobile networks up and running during the first six months of 2019, and some may launch during the first quarter. Amon believes a second wave of 5G phones — all flagships — will hit the market in the latter part of the year ahead of the holiday shopping season. OnePlus CEO, Carl Pei, who joined Amon on stage, says his company will have one of the first, if not the actual first, 5G phones to reach consumer hands. Pei noted that OnePlus has already begun conducting 5G tests with partner Qualcomm in San Diego. OnePlus is prepared to launch the OnePlus 6T at an event in New York on October 29. It is likely the 6T's successor that will include 5G. Earlier this year, Sprint claimed it would be the first carrier to launch a 5G handset with partner LG. Given OnePlus' recent tie-up with T-Mobile, it's possible OnePlus' 5G smartphone will operate on T-Mobile's network. Neither Sprint nor T-Mobile has provided a firm 5G launch date for 2019.
The FCC is stripping power away from state and local governments in order to facilitate the installment of 5G infrastructure. This week the agency moved forward on an earlier proposal that sets limits on fees municipalities can charge for cell site applications, as well as the timeframe in which those applications need to be approved. Carriers must apply locally within towns, cities, and states to install new cell sites. Local governments can impede progress by denying permission to put up new sites for any number of reasons, as well as charge fees. Since 5G requires more cells in more locations, the FCC believes the process needs to change. To start, the FCC is setting limits on the fees that can be charged by municipalities for applications, processing the applications, and adjusting the right-of-way around such sites. The FCC is mandating that local governments charge no more than is reasonable. The FCC has also shortened the shot clocks afforded to local governments to weigh such applications. For example, new equipment that is to be added to existing cell sites will have a 60-day shot clock, and entirely new cell sites will have a 90-day shot clock. Local governments that charge onerous fees or sit on applications past the new 60- and 90-day windows will be presumed to be denying the applications and will need to have legitimate reasons prepared. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are all in various stages of building their 5G networks. This step by the FCC helps these companies at the expense of local governmental control. Earlier this year, the FCC made similar changes at the federal level.
Nokia and Sprint today said they've made the first live 5G NR connection using a Massive MIMO antenna array. The setup can support up to 120 MHz in Sprint's 2.5 GHz spectrum. The companies claim this arrangement can deliver peak 5G download speeds up to 3 Gbps while maintaining active LTE service. This means Sprint can offer 4G and 5G on the same radio. Sprint and Nokia believe this is a win for handset makers and, eventually, consumers. Sprint believes it will be able to deploy 5G NR via Massive MIMO on its 2.5 GHz spectrum during the first half of 2019. 5G is expected to offer 4K and 8K video streaming, as well as high-definition virtual reality and ultra-low latency.
The FCC wants to ensure that wireless companies don't hit any unnecessary hurdles thrown in the way by state or local governments as they build out their 5G networks. As it works today, carriers typically have to apply locally within towns, cities, and states to install new cell sites. Local government can impede progress by denying permission to put up new sites for any number of reasons. Since future 5G will require more cells in more locations, the FCC believes the process needs to change. A new Declaratory Ruling and Report and Order seeks to establish new guidelines. For example, the FCC wants to set limits on the fees that can be charged by municipalities for applications, processing the applications, and adjusting the right-of-way around such sites. The FCC also wants to shorten the shot clocks afforded to local governments to weigh such applications. For example, it wants to see a 60-day approval window when carriers seek to adjust an existing cell site and a 90-day window for installing new cell sites. The Order will codify the existing 90 and 150 day shot clocks for larger wireless facility deployments. Local governments that don't comply with the new clocks will be presumed to be denying the applications and will need to have legit reasons prepared. "This is part of a national strategy to promote the timely buildout of this new infrastructure across the country by eliminating regulatory impediments that unnecessarily add delays and costs to bringing advanced wireless services to the public," argued the FCC. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wirless are all in various stages of building their 5G networks.
Sprint today announced that together with LG it will bring its first 5G mobile phone to market during the first half of 2019. Sprint said the "innovative handset" is being "built for the country's first mobile 5G network." Sprint claims its forthcoming 5G network will allow customers to download full-length HD movies in seconds instead of minutes, and stream graphic-heavy videos and games without delays or lag-time. Specifics concerning the device were not provided. Sprint plans to launch its 5G mobile network in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. Sprint says more 5G devices are in development and will be announced over time. All the major carriers are rushing to be first to launch 5G. AT&T expects to offer a 5G mobile hotspot by the end of the year, while Verizon Wireless and Motorola will offer a 5G Moto Mod to the recently-announced Moto Z3 smartphone early next year.
The 3GPP today ratified another piece of the 5G specification, termed the Standalone 5G New Radio, or SA 5G NR. This spec is for 5G networks that are developed on their own, apart from legacy or pre-existing networks. The Non-Standalone portion of the 5G spec was ratified late last year and covers 5G that hooks into existing LTE 4G systems. "The freeze of Standalone 5G NR radio specifications represents a major milestone in the quest of the wireless industry towards realizing the holistic 5G vision," said BalÃ¡zs BertÃ©nyi, chairman of 3GPP RAN. "5G NR Standalone systems not only dramatically increase the mobile broadband speeds and capacity, but also open the door for new industries beyond telecommunications that are looking to revolutionize their ecosystem through 5G." The SA 5G NR and the NSA 5G NR standards will together include the technology used by commercial entities, the air interface, and end users. The spec was approved by more than 600 delegates from the world's leading carrier, handset, and silicon vendors. Some participants included AT&T, DISH, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Kyocera, LG, MediaTek, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, SoftBank/Sprint, Sony, Verizon, Xiaomi, and ZTE. The 3GPP said the technical specifications for the ratified SA 5G NR will be published in the days ahead.
Sprint today announced more markets in which it expects to offer 5G service. The company earlier said it would kick off 5G in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Today, Sprint expanded its list of first 5G markets to include its home town of Kansas City, as well as New York City and Phoenix. The company expects to debut 5G service on its 2.5 GHz spectrum during the first half of 2019. The company plans to use Massive MIMO cells and other technologies to increase the speed and capacity of its existing LTE sites by a factor of 10. The company will later add its 800 MHz and 1.9 GHz spectrum to its 5G strategy.
Sprint today indicated which markets will be first to see 5G service from the carrier at some point in the first half of 2019. Sprint said customers in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. will be first to experience the company’s 5G network. First, however, Sprint plans to bring massive MIMO to Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles in April, with Atlanta, Houston and Washington, D.C. to follow later this year. Sprint says massive MIMO is a critical bridge that will span its LTE 4G and future 5G networks. The company is preparing to deploy thousands of massive MIMO radios with 128 radios (64 transmit, 64 receive). All Sprint subscribers who have a device with 2.5 GHz (Band 41) will benefit from the increased capacity and speed provided by massive MIMO. Sprint is working with Qualcomm and device manufacturers on 5G mobile devices, which it expects to launch in the first half of 2019.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the agency will commence an auction for 28 GHz airwaves as soon as November. Pai expects the spectrum in question will be used for 5G. As soon as the auction for 28 GHz spectrum is finished, the FCC will move forward with another auction for 24 GHz spectrum for the same purposes. Pai is seeking public input on the idea. "To set the foundation for these auctions, the FCC will ask for public input this spring on the right procedures for these auctions," said Pai in remarks made at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona. In order for the auctions to proceed, Pai says Congress will need to pass legislation by May 13 concerning upfront payments to be made by potential bidders. The agency is already looking at the use of 6 GHz spectrum for 5G based on feedback provided by the public last year. Future 5G networks will likely be deployed on low-band, mid-band, and high-band spectrum. For example, T-Mobile expects to launch 5G using its 600 MHz spectrum (low) holdings, while Sprint is looking at its 2.5 GHz spectrum (mid) for 5G. Further, the FCC says it has already changed some rules to help speed up 5G deployment. "We want to remove outdated rules and make it easier to deploy wireless infrastructure," said Pai. Relaxing rules governing how cell sites are deployed will let carriers put small cells where they need to in order to densify their networks. The FCC Chairman also spent time espousing the value of his open internet order, which removes net neutrality rules. He called the "light-touch regulation" one of the major pillars to his approach to 5G.
Qualcomm today said various network operators plan to use its Snapdragon X50 5G modem in trials this year, while a number of device makers have selected the X50 for mobile gear due next year. According to Qualcomm, the carriers committed to the X50 include AT&T, British Telecom, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, Singtel, SK Telecom, Sprint, Telstra, Verizon, and others. They will all rely on the Snapdragon X50 to test mobile 5G. A notable exception is T-Mobile in the U.S. The tests will occur in sub-6 GHz and mmWave spectrum bands and will be based on the 3GPP Release 15 5G NR standard. Qualcomm says the X50 will allow the carriers to test the modem within hardware that has the size, power, and limitations of a smartphone. This will help operators fine-tune their pre-launch 5G networks accordingly. Further, Qualcomm says the Snapdragon X50 will wind up in commercial mobile devices as soon as the first half of 2019. Device makers including Asus, Fujitsu, HMD Global, HTC, LG, Netgear, Oppo, Sharp, Sierra Wireless, Sony Mobile, vivo, Xiaomi, ZTE, and others all plan to bring 5G devices to market with the Snapdragon X50 5G NR providing the connectivity. Notable abesntees from the list include Apple and Huawei. Qualcomm believes the Snapdragon X50 will be ideal for smartphones, always-connected PCs, mobile broadband, and extended-, virtual-, and augmented-reality applications. The goal for 5G is to deliver multi-gigabit per second speeds and ultra-low latency — something Qualcomm asserts that the X50 can do. Network operators in the U.S. including AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless have all committed to launching some form of 5G over the next 10 to 18 months.
Sprint will use its 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings to provide the backbone for its planned 5G network, which is on deck to go live during the first half of 2019. The company is already hard at work on what it calls its Next-Gen Network. Sprint plans to deploy 64T64R Massive MIMO 2.5 GHz radios, which it says will increase capacity by as much as 10 times that of current LTE systems, in addition to boosting data speeds. Massive MIMO will support both LTE and 5G New Radio services at the same time on the same towers. The company is already in the process of upgrading its towers in all three spectrum bands (800 MHz, 1.9 GHz, and 2.5 GHz). It plans to build thousands of new cell cites as part of its densification project, and hopes to deploy up to one million Sprint Magic Boxes. The Sprint Magic Boxes are small cells already being used at 80,000 sites across 200 cities. "We’re working with Qualcomm and network and device manufacturers in order to launch the first truly mobile 5G network in the United States by the first half of 2019," said Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure today during the company's quarterly earnings call. Sprint competitors AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have all committed to launching some form of 5G service later this year, though none has a nationwide footprint on deck for launch. Sprint has 160 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum in the top 100 markets around the U.S. Sprint's competitors are eyeing other spectrum bands for their 5G networks. For example, T-Mobile plans to use some of its 600 MHz holdings. Sprint says chipsets and devices are in the works, too. "We have come to an agreement with Qualcomm that they are going to be able to release this toward the later end of 2018, the new chipsets," said Claure. "And we have had a conversation with a leading Korean manufacturer to basically have devices ready by the first half of 2019." LG and Samsung are both based in Korea. Sprint expects to charge more for unlimited 5G service. Claure believes it has more wiggle room with respect to price than its competitors because it currently charges less for unlimited 4G service. In other Sprint news, the company said it added 256,000 postpaid customers during the fourth quarter of 2017, as well as 63,000 prepaid customers.
Sprint today voiced its support of the recently ratified NSA 5G NR specification and revealed its own plans for deploying 5G. The specification for NSA 5G NR includes support for up to 100 MHz on a single carrier (in the 2.5 GHz band) versus today's limit of 20 MHz per carrier. Sprint holds a massive 160 MHz slice of 2.5 GHz spectrum in the top 100 markets around the U.S., which will allow Sprint to offer mid-band 5G to many Americans. The company is working with Qualcomm and SoftBank to bring 5G services and devices to market by late 2019. Sprint says it will first use Massive MIMO as a stepping stone to 5G. It will launch Massive MIMO in its 2.5 GHz spectrum in 2018. These radios contain 64 transmitters and 64 receivers each, which allow for incredibly accurate beam-forming. These radios will be software-upgradeable to 5G NR. Sprint did not say anything about plans to support mmWave-based 5G in high-band spectrum. "This is an important milestone and we’re making great progress accelerating the development and commercialization of 5G NR in the 2.5 GHz band," said Dr. John Saw, Sprint CTO. "5G will spur dramatic innovation and progress around the world, and we see great opportunity in mobile 5G, massive machine type communications, and ultra-reliable and low-latency communications." AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon all have similar plans and timeframes for bringing 5G to market.
Sprint today said it is working with Qualcomm and SoftBank to develop 5G technologies, including the 3GPP New Radio (NR) standard, for Sprint's 2.5 GHz spectrum (Band 41). Sprint's 2.5 GHz airwaves offer a massive footprint around the country, making it ideal for providing coverage. Similar to T-Mobile's recent announcement, however, Band 41 is not among those being targeted for 5G. The FCC and ITU are looking mostly at high-band wavelengths, such as the 28 GHz, 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 64-71 GHz bands, for 5G. Sprint didn't say if it will also explore 5G in those bands. Sprint and its partners plan to launch commercial 5G service and devices by late 2019. Sprint's timeline is similar to those of its competitors.
Verizon Wireless today said it plans to trial 5G technology in 11 U.S. markets later this year. This "pre-commercial service" will be offered to a very limited number of customers and not necessarily made available to consumers. The tests will involve the 5GTF spec Verizon developed past year. The trial markets include Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Bernardsville, Brockton, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami, Sacramento, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Verizon competitors AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint are each testing their own variants of potential 5G technologies. The actual 5G spec has yet to be defined by the International Telecommunications Union, but carriers and telecom equipment makers around the world are hoping their technologies will be included in the final standard.