Sprint touts 5G progress apart from T-Mobile

John Saw
John Saw is Sprint's CTO. (Monica Alleven/FierceWireless)

As 2018 comes to a close, Sprint said it has much to show for the roughly $5 billion it spent upgrading its network throughout the course of this year.

“We are celebrating a banner year for the Sprint network,” CTO John Saw wrote on the company’s site. “We made a massive investment to drive strong improvements in our network performance today and prepare to launch mobile 5G starting in the first half of next year. We’re ending this year with our biggest LTE data coverage footprint, LTE Advanced nationwide which is up to 2X faster than before on capable devices, and Gigabit Class LTE performance in more than 270 cities.”

Saw offered a few general updates on Sprint’s network efforts, noting that the carrier has deployed its 2.5 GHz spectrum to around 70% of its cell sites, and that it has more than 25,000 mini macros and strand mounts deployed across the country. However, those numbers are largely in line with the progress Sprint reported at the end of October.

Saw added though that “we’re making great progress on our path to launch 5G in the first half of 2019. Earlier this month at our lab in Reston we completed our first 5G data transmission on 2.5 GHz spectrum, and we’re excited to soon take testing into the field.”

Sprint has said it will deploy mobile 5G services next year in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C., “building out from the city centers to create a contiguous 5G mobile experience, and adding more cities over time,” the company said.

Saw announced Sprint’s 5G progress on the same day that AT&T turned on its mobile 5G network.

Sprint’s progress toward its 5G launch is noteworthy considering the company is working to close its proposed merger with T-Mobile. Under that blockbuster agreement, T-Mobile’s management would largely take control of the combined company and would embark on a major nationwide deployment of 5G services across T-Mobile’s 600 MHz and Sprint’s 2.5 GHz spectrum.

Further, the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile this week crossed another major hurdle this week: The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews foreign investments in the United States for national security threats, agreed to the merger.

Additionally, T-Mobile said that “the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense, collectively referred to as Team Telecom, submitted a filing with the FCC that it has reviewed the transaction pertaining to potential national security, law enforcement, and public safety issues. Team Telecom confirmed it has no objections to the merger and has withdrawn its request to defer action on the transaction.”

Still outstanding though is an approval from the FCC. Sprint and T-Mobile have said they expect to consummate their merger by the first half of next year.