Sprint and HTC announce 5G mobile hub

Sprint, Qualcomm, and HTC are working on a Snapdragon-powered smart mobile hub to be released in the US by mid-2019.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Sprint has announced that it is working with Qualcomm and Chinese tech company HTC to develop a 5G mobile smart hub to be released in the United States in the first half of 2019.

The device will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile platform using the Snapdragon X50 5G modem, and will enable both 5G and gigabit LTE across multiple devices.

Sprint said it would have more details on the name of the device, specifications, and timing of release at a later date.

"We're excited to continue building our 5G device portfolio and announce another way our customers can be among the first to experience Sprint 5G next year," Sprint CTO Dr John Saw said.

The announcement follows Sprint previously revealing in August that it is working with LG on the first 5G smartphone for the US in the first half of 2019, following the launch of the carrier's 5G network at the beginning of next year.

At the time, LG Electronics North America CEO William Cho said the tech company's nearly 20-year partnership with Sprint would expand, with Sprint's 5G experts to partner with LG in designing of the phone.

"LG has done tremendous work developing technical designs that enable us to be among the first movers in mobile 5G," Saw added in August.

"Today's announcement brings us one step closer to putting a beautifully designed advanced 5G smartphone in our customers' hands."

Saw told ZDNet during Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018 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 also added New York City, Phoenix, and Kansas City to its 5G rollout roadmap.

The carrier earlier this month announced that it is now providing more than 225 cities with gigabit-speed LTE, calling its network upgrades the stepping stones to 5G.

Included in the gigabit-capable cities are New York City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Washington DC, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit, Miami, Indianapolis, and Phoenix.

Sprint said its 4G LTE upgrade program has involved deploying 4x4 Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO), 256 Quadrature Amplitude Moderation (QAM), enhanced beam forming with Transmission Mode 9, two- and three-channel carrier aggregation, uplink carrier aggregation, 64 QAM, and Massive MIMO.

According to Sprint, it has also activated more small cells in the last six months than it has in the last two years, with more than 21,000 2.5GHz outdoor small cells now live, including 15,000 strand-mount small cells on cable infrastructure and 6,500 on street mini macros.

Sprint has now distributed more than 264,000 units of its Magic Box -- of which the carrier unveiled an updated version during Mobile World Congress Americas (MWCA) in Los Angeles last month -- across the US.

"With regards to the 5G plans, we are very well on track," Saw added at the start of November.

"The tool that we're going to use to build our 5G network is using Massive MIMO. And the 5G spectrum that we're going to be leveraging is our 2.5 gigahertz spectrum. So we have restarted building our Massive MIMO sites ... so 5G, for us, once we have these Massive MIMO sites built, will be a software and line-cut upgrade only, so no tower climbs needed."

"In a couple of months, we will add the 5G software. We will be able to enable both LTE and 5G simultaneously on the same sites."

T-Mobile, which Sprint is aiming to merge with next year, is targeting Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, and Dallas as its initial 30 5G deployment cities.

Read also: HTC denies it will stop releasing new smartphones

HTC, meanwhile, has also been working with China Mobile on accelerating the production and deployment of 5G devices and infrastructure in China.

"The program aims to launch the first batch of pre-commercial 5G devices for a large-scale trial application showcase, encompassing applicable scenarios for 5G devices, product configuration, technical solutions, testing and verification, and product research and development," HTC said in June.

"By collaborating with the major telecommunication carrier in China, HTC aims to both advance the development of 5G technologies into our daily lives, and also to accelerate mass adoption of VR/AR."

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