Massive MIMO and 2.5 GHz spectrum portfolio set the stage for 5G in 2019, according to Sprint execs

In a Friday conference call, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure and CTO John Saw discussed the carrier’s roadmap to delivering a mobile 5G service on the back of ongoing massive MIMO testing ahead of planned deployment on the live network later this year.

“When you look at our 2.5 [GHz] spectrum,” Claure said, “…that is the low-band of 5G. We’re not going to have the same propagation issues that our competitors are going to have. I could not be more excited. We can roll out 5G just basically by utilizing our towers and our small cells and the entire network plan we have.” Claure said Sprint is positioned to deliver the first mobile 5G network in the U.S. and “potentially in the world;” with that comment Claure also called out the possibility that a “Korean operator” may claim the world’s first designation.

CTO John Saw provided a little more color on the carrier’s path to 5G, noting that 128-element massive MIMO antennas, equipped with vertical and horizontal beamforming form the basis of that evolution. “Our path to 5G is going to be coming through massive MIMO,” Saw said. “Because of our strong spectrum position…we’re able to basically use half these antennas for LTE and simultaneously use the other half for 5G. Essentially you’re killing two birds with one stone. You can turn on 5G with a software upgrade in a few months.”

Saw said massive MIMO field trials, conducted last year with Ericsson and Samsung, would continue ahead of commercial activation later this year. Next he said, those same radio will be used to test 5G New Radio capabilities, which would go live on the network “early next year.” Highlighting the coverage and capacity advantages of its 2.5 GHz spectrum, Saw said, “Our mobile 5G network is not going to be limited to millimeteric hot zones.”

Claure’s and Saw’s commentary came as Sprint released its third-quarter 2017 financial results. Highlights include:

  • Net postpaid subscriber additions of 256,000
  • Prepaid net additions of 63,000
  • Net income of $7.2. billion and operating income of $727 million
  • Net cash from operating activities of $1.2 billion and adjusted free cash flow of $397 million

Click here for detailed financial information. 

“I’d say the best days of Spring are yet to come,” Claure said.



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