MWCA: Sprint upgrades its Magic Box for faster speeds

Sprint's third-gen Magic Box is smaller and enables speeds 25 percent faster than the previous iteration.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Sprint has announced an upgrade of its Magic Box, with an improved antenna for 25 percent faster speeds than the previous device.

The Sprint Magic Box Generation 3, which will become available later this year, also has a faster start-up process and is smaller, allowing users to plug it in anywhere rather than directly in a window.

The box utilises 4x4 Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (4x4 MIMO) and 256 quadrature amplitude moderation (256 QAM) technologies for faster speeds and higher reliability, along with three-carrier aggregation across Sprint's licensed spectrum.

"The newest Sprint Magic Box is a free-standing unit that dramatically improves data coverage and increases download speeds on average by 250 percent to provide nearby Sprint customers a better data and customer experience overall," the company said on Wednesday during Mobile World Congress Americas (MWCA) in Los Angeles.

"A single device covers an average-sized small business, extends data coverage to benefit Sprint customers in nearby buildings, and improves street-level network performance."

The device, manufactured by Airspan Networks, can be self-installed within minutes and now also includes Wi-Fi backhaul, two USB ports, a colour screen, and an Ethernet port.

According to Sprint CTO Dr John Saw, the new Magic Boxes utilise the carrier's 2.5GHz spectrum holdings.

During the quarter to June 30, Sprint had reported distributing more than 65,000 Magic Boxes for a total of over 260,000 across the nation.

Sprint had earlier this week also announced a demonstration of 5G Massive MIMO technology across its 2.5GHz spectrum ahead of a 5G deployment in the first half of next year.

The 5G NR connection utilised Nokia's commercial AirScale Base Station and Massive MIMO Active Antenna, and a 5G test device emulator to deliver peak downlink throughput of 3Gbps across 5G and LTE simultaneously.

"Sprint has long collaborated with Nokia on its Massive MIMO and 5G innovations ... because of our large spectrum holdings, Sprint is one of the only operators in the world with enough capacity to operate LTE and 5G simultaneously using Massive MIMO and huge licensed channels of 100MHz of spectrum on the same radios," Saw said.

Saw told ZDNet during MWC Barcelona in February that his carrier has the best 5G spectrum, with Sprint choosing its initial six 5G markets of Los Angeles, Washington DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston due to their high traffic and its spectrum holdings.

Sprint in May added New York City, Phoenix, and Kansas City to its 5G rollout roadmap.

Read also: Sprint CTO at MWC: We have the best 5G spectrum

T-Mobile, which Sprint is aiming to merge with next year, earlier this week announced a $3.5 billion deal with Nokia rival Ericsson to deliver its 5G networks, meanwhile.

T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray told ZDNet during MWC that his carrier's 5G deployment across 30 cities this year -- Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, and Dallas are to have the service by 2019 -- is "moving well", with the 600MHz LTE rollout beginning last year and much of the hardware being 5G NR capable.

Ookla claimed in a recent report that the T-Mobile merger with Sprint "could result in an unmatched network in the face of 5G".

This week, however, the Federal Communications Commission told Sprint and T-Mobile that it needs more time to review their planned merger.

The federal regulatory agency published a letter saying that it is pausing its informal, 180-day "transaction shot clock" in order to review newly submitted materials from the companies.

Sprint is also working with LG on a 5G smartphone for the first half of 2019, and with Ericsson on building a virtualised core Internet of Things (IoT) network and operating system.

Related Coverage

Sprint chairman: US can't win 5G race without Sprint, T-Mobile merger

Marcelo Claure, executive chairman of the board of Sprint Corporation, said the combined company has the spectrum assets and financial strength to move the US ahead in 5G.

MWCA: VMware pushes into 5G with Service Assurance Suite

VMware's Service Assurance Suite, newly acquired from Dell EMC, will help 'bridge the gap' between 4G and 5G networks, the company has announced.

5G for golf: Intel and Fox Sports work on US Open broadcasts

Intel, Fox Sports, Ericsson, and AT&T discuss how they used a US Open golf broadcast to iron out 5G in media.

Intel partners with Nokia and Ericsson on 5G worldwide

Working on 5G deployments across the globe, both networking giants Nokia and Ericsson have selected Intel to back up their solutions for mobile telecommunications carriers.

Verizon launching 5G in October

Verizon is launching its 5G home broadband services in Sacramento, Los Angeles, Houston, and Indianapolis at the beginning of October.

5 things to know about Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband launching Oct 1 (TechRepublic)

The world's first commercial 5G broadband internet service from Verizon will arrive in four US cities next month.

Editorial standards