Sprint announced plans today to develop and launch a 5G network and devices by the end of 2019, in partnership with Qualcomm and SoftBank.
Sprint’s announcement is incredibly lacking when it comes to details, however. Besides the “late 2019” date, the release notes that the carrier is looking to develop its 5G network in the 2.5GHz band of spectrum (E-UTRA LTE Band 41, to be precise), meaning that Sprint doesn’t seem to be pursing millimeter wave for 5G at this time. But beyond that, there’s virtually no information as to how Sprint will roll out a new nationwide network over the next two and a half years, or what technologies it will be using to separate it from its existing 4G network.
That makes it yet another carrier with ill-defined 5G plans, joining T-Mobile, which announced its similarly vague 5G plans for 2019, and AT&T, which is launching a deceptively named “5G Evolution” network to prepare for a true 5G network that will come at some unknown later date.
As of this time, there still is no formal 5G standard from standards organizations like the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the 3GPP. That said, the 3GPP is planning to focus its efforts on Release 15 — which is set to include the first 5G standards — in the second half of 2017, with a goal of enabling large-scale tests and deployments of 5G technology by early 2019. Which means that if everything goes according to schedule, it’s at least possible for Sprint and T-Mobile to hit their 2019 goals.