Sprint will launch its 5G network in select cities in May

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Sprint will launch its 5G network in select cities in May
You get 5G! And you get 5G!
You get 5G! And you get 5G!

Image: Bob al-green/mashable

The 5G game is afoot!

Sprint announced Monday that its 5G network is live, and that 5G would launch commercially in select cities in “the first half” of 2019. That puts the ISP in competition with Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, which have all already been deploying their versions of 5G networks in the US.

The cities Sprint expects to get Sprint’s 5G in May 2019 are Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and Kansas City. Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington D.C. will follow. The network will be available in the downtown areas, not necessarily covering the entire metropolitan footprint of these cities.

Sprint will also allow its carrier partner, Google Fi, access to its 5G network. Google Fi is Google’s phone plan that gives its customers access to Sprint, T-Mobile, and other networks.

Of course, for a 5G network to actually mean anything, Sprint’s customers will have to have phones capable of connecting to 5G. Device makers unveiled a handful of new phones with 5G connectivity at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona February 23 and 24. For Sprint, that crucially includes the LG V50 ThinQ, which will be available exclusively for Sprint for an initial time period. 

The announcement puts Sprint in the 5G game — where it has more recently been playing defense. Earlier in February, Sprint filed a lawsuit against AT&T for what it said are misleading 5G marketing tactics that give AT&T an unfair advantage. 

AT&T began putting 5GE indicators on some phones in December. But the 5GE connectivity does not mean the phones are connecting to true 5G — just a faster 4G. Sprint claims that this dilutes the meaning of 5G for everyone. AT&T, for its part, is unfazed by the suit.

Verizon debuted “5G Home” for select urban areas in 2018; this allows for 5G wifi in the home, but not device connectivity. AT&T, of course, has its fake 5G. And T-Mobile committed to 5G in 30 cities in February 2018.

The 5G future is coming, fast. But what that actually looks like, in its most grand utopian iteration, is still up for debate.

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