By Diana Goovaerts

Sprint gears up for 5G launch

Sprint updated its 5G plan, announcing it will launch commercial service in five cities in May and provide next-generation coverage for Google Fi under a new MVNO agreement.

During a press conference, CEO Michel Combes said: “When we say that we’re going to launch it in nine cities, it’s not a few hundred customers, it’s for millions of customers,” adding Sprint is preparing “a real commercial launch that is relevant to customers”.

Initial launch cities will include Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and Kansas City with deployments in Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington DC expected to follow later in the first half of the year.

CTO John Saw (pictured), said the operator has “taken great pains to get consistent 5G coverage” in the launch cities, though the footprint in each will vary. He added Sprint planned its 5G deployments based on LTE traffic patterns and capacity needs.

Sprint executives declined to share 5G pricing, but noted the operator will “remain competitive” and focus marketing efforts on its launch areas.

The operator will initially offer three compatible devices: LG’s V50 ThinQ and Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G smartphones as well as HTC’s 5G Hub hotspot, which includes a 5-inch screen and Google Assistant. The operator said Hatch, a cloud streaming service for mobile gaming, will be integrated into 5G handsets.

Combes also took the opportunity to promote Sprint’s proposed merger with T-Mobile US, noting it would allow the operator to scale 5G much more quickly. However, he added all investments Sprint is making in 5G currently will benefit it whether the merger is approved or not.