Sprint has announced that they will be rolling out their 5G network to four cities in May. The four cities are Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Kansas City. This will be followed by Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, DC. Those cities will get 5G coverage before the end of the first half of 2019. The coverage from the nation’s forth largest carrier will be true 5G and will be able to reach further into rural areas thanks to the spectrum that the carrier owns.
The rapid development of 5G networks is a key task for all of the carriers here in the United States for 2019. AT&T, despite their hokey marketing ploy of their current 4G network, is working hard to get theirs rolled out to dozens of cities while Verizon is also pushing hard to get their network deployed. The key difference between AT&T and Verizon when compared to Sprint is the spectrum. AT&T and Verizon are having to deploy millimeter compatible hardware which will work but it will require a lot of it it. In order for it to work, they have to have an area saturated with these POPs (Points of Presence) to create the 5G network. Sprint, on the other hand, is rolling out a 2.5GHz network which will allow for larger coverage areas without all the equipment.
The trick in all of this is, of course, devices. While LG, Samsung and other manufactures are promising 5G devices this year, the reality is it will take time to get those devices into the world. Apple, for their part, is said not be looking at 5G in the iPhone next year, not this year. Further, it will take well beyond 2019 for carriers like Sprint to get their networks truly rolled out to large population areas, let alone rural areas. Much like 4G before it, it could take 5 years or more to truly roll out to everyone.
In other words, don’t get completely caught up in the 5G hype – not yet at least – and certainly don’t make a phone buying decision in 2019 (and maybe even 2020) on if the phone support 5G.