Sprint officials believe the carrier will be the first in the U.S. to launch a “true mobile 5G” network early next year.
Chief executive Marcelo Claure said on the company’s latest earnings call that Sprint expects to provide mobile 5G commercial services and devices “by the first half of 2019.”
“I am very confident in Sprint’s future based on the competitive advantage that we will have with the deployment of 5G on our 2.5 spectrum,” Claure said, according to a transcript.
Sprint said the company’s spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band across the nation’s top markets represents the largest block of below-6 GHz spectrum in the U.S. Claure said of that spectrum, Sprint will be able to dedicate more than 100 MHz to 5G.
Officials added that the carrier plans to bolster its number of large cell sites by nearly 20 percent and deploy more than 40,000 outdoor small cells — the latter with help from broadband infrastructure agreements with cable operators Cox and Altice.
Michel Combes, the company’s new CFO, added that the company plans to roll out Massive MIMO technology in coming quarters, which executives said would bolster its LTE capacity and serve as the company’s “bridge” to 5G networks.
AT&T has vowed to launch mobile 5G in up to a dozen markets by the end of this year, while Verizon plans to debut fixed wireless 5G next year. Claure argued that because those carriers utilize millimeter wave spectrum, “it is really just a hot zone and not a true mobile experience.”
T-Mobile, meanwhile, plans to debut mobile 5G service in 2020.
“Sprint is the only carrier that doesn’t have to compromise what 5G can deliver, because we can deliver super wide channels of more than 100 MHz, while still delivering mid-band coverage characteristics,” Claure said.
Sprint reported adding 256,000 net postpaid customers in the latest fiscal quarter and postpaid churn of 1.7 percent.