The wireless carriers are racing towards 5G, and while Sprint will make a 2019 debut, the Now Network’s offering won’t be as full-featured as the other major wireless networks.

Sprint on Monday officially announced that it will be launching its 5G service in May of this year. When it does go live, it will be available in four cities at launch: Chicago, Illinois; Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas, Texas; and Kansas City, Missouri. After that, and sometime within the first half of this year, Sprint’s 5G service will then expand to Houston, Texas; Los Angeles, California; Phoenix, Arizona; New York City, New York; and Washington, D.C.

“At launch, Sprint’s highly mobile, on-the-go customers can expect mobile 5G coverage ranging from nearly 30 square miles covering Midtown and lower Manhattan, to approximately 230 square miles spanning the greater Dallas Fort Worth area, for a total initial 5G coverage footprint of more than 1,000 square miles across all nine cities.”

The company also confirmed that if the planned merger with T-Mobile is given the A-OK from government bodies, the network will build out a 5G network across the United States in partnership with T-Mobile. The wireless network’s first 5G smartphone is the recently announced LG V50 ThinQ, which the carrier has an exclusive launch window.

There is a bit of a catch here, though. Sprint’s 5G is not going to be as powerful as other carriers out there, due to the fact Sprint doesn’t hold the licensing on specific airwaves to support better 5G coverage. As a result, Sprint will be using “Massive MIMO” and relying on the 2.5GHz spectrum. The 5G coverage the other carriers are using relies on millimeter wave technologies. As noted by The Verge following the announcement, Sprint’s 5G network will technically be faster than its LTE network (the carrier saw download speeds up to 430Mbps), it won’t be as fast as 5G from the likes of AT&T and Verizon.

[via The Verge; Sprint]

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