Sprint has announced completing a world-first 5G data call across 2.5GHz spectrum on a live commercial network in partnership with Nokia and Qualcomm, which it said moves 5G from the lab to the real world ahead of a first-half 2019 launch.
The trial, which took place in San Diego, made use of Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (Massive MIMO) technology, Nokia's dual-mode AirScale Massive MIMO radio, and a smartphone powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon X50 5G modem and antenna modules with integrated RF transceiver, RF front-end, and antenna elements.
Sprint was able to stream YouTube videos, conduct Skype audio and video calls, and send and receive instant messages during the test.
"This is a big step forward; Sprint 5G is now out of the lab and in the field as we prepare for our commercial launch in the first half of this year," Sprint CTO Dr John Saw said.
"We're making great progress towards giving Sprint customers the first mobile 5G experience in nine top cities with the first 5G smartphone in the US."
Nokia North America CTO Mike Murphy added that by using 2.5GHz for 5G, Sprint's existing nationwide mobile sites can be reused, which also provide indoor coverage.
Earlier this week, Sprint had confirmed at CES 2019 that it will be launching a Samsung 5G smartphone in summer 2019, as well as unveiling the smart home small cell solution with LTE called Trebl with Magic Box.
The Samsung 5G smartphone will connect to Sprint's LTE and 5G networks, using its 2.5GHz, 1.9GHz, and 800MHz spectrum bands.
"Samsung is one of our key 5G network infrastructure Massive MIMO providers, so we are delighted that they will also deliver one of our first 5G smartphones, putting blazing fast connectivity right into our customers' hands," Saw said on Monday.
The Samsung announcement comes after Sprint previously revealed in August that it is working with LG on the first 5G smartphone for the US in the first half of 2019, which will follow the launch of the carrier's 5G network at the beginning of this year.
At the time, LG Electronics North America CEO William Cho said the tech company's near 20-year partnership with Sprint will expand, with Sprint's 5G experts to partner with LG in designing the phone.
Saw told ZDNet during Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018 in February last year 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.
In November, Sprint also announced that it is working with Qualcomm and Chinese tech company HTC to develop a 5G mobile smart hub to be released in the US during 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.
The carrier at the end of last year also said 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 also used CES 2019 to announce that Greenville, South Carolina, will see its first smart city build-out based on both its Curiosity Internet of Things (IoT) platform and mobile 5G network connectivity.
As part of the project, Sprint will deploy Massive MIMO technology as well as a dedicated IoT network and "micro-positioning" technology aimed at enabling connected vehicles, smart machines, and autonomous drones to operate and react in real time.
Sprint further announced at CES that it will be constructing a smart vehicle test track in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, which will also utilise Curiosity IoT, 5G, and micro-positioning tech.
The Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners will feature a 1.5-mile test track equipped with nodes to trial AI, robotics, and autonomous vehicle applications including vehicle-to-vehicle communications, vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, and over-the-horizon warning systems.
Lastly, Sprint announced that it is launching "precision mapping technology" with Mapbox, again using its Curiosity IoT and later its 5G network.
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