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.
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