Sprint initiates first 5G data call on 2.5 GHz

Sprint successfully completed the world's first 5G data transmission over the air using its 2.5 GHz spectrum on a live network in San Diego. (Sprint)

Sprint says it has completed the world’s first over-the-air 5G data transmission using 2.5 GHz and Nokia’s Massive MIMO technology on the carrier’s live network. The successful test comes as Sprint inches toward launching mobile 5G service in the first half of this year and awaits a pending, and now paused, FCC review of its proposed merger with T-Mobile.

The milestone also comes less than a week after T-Mobile initiated the world’s first 5G video call and data session on 600 MHz on its network in Las Vegas.

Sprint says its field test was conducted in San Diego using global 5G standards on a commercial 3GPP 5G New Radio (NR) network with the carrier’s 2.5 GHz spectrum, Nokia’s dual-mode AirScale Massive MIMO radio and a smartphone test device powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 5G modem. “The test demonstrated a seamless transition of connectivity between Sprint’s 4G LTE Advanced and 5G network, while streaming YouTube videos, conducting Skype audio and video calls, and sending and receiving instant messages,” the carrier wrote in an announcement.

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“This is a big step forward—Sprint 5G is now out of the lab and in the field as we prepare for our commercial launch in the first half of this year,” John Saw, Sprint’s chief technology officer, said in a prepared statement. “We’re making great progress toward giving Sprint customers the first mobile 5G experience in nine top cities with the first 5G smartphone in the U.S.”

Sprint previously reported a successful 5G NR data transmission inside its lab in Reston, Virginia, using 2.5 GHz spectrum and Massive MIMO radios from Nokia and Ericsson. The carrier reiterated its goal of launching commercial 5G service in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C., by June.