Sprint dragged me to a dumpster in Texas to show me the future

Photo: Gizmodo / Dell Cameron

The experience of using a 5G phone for the first time is a little anticlimatic if I do is honest. When I picked up an LG V50 ThinQ running on Sprint's early 5G network in Dallas on Wednesday, an LG representative urged me to observe how quickly YouTube videos would load. It was fast, no doubt. But after I whipped out my device and reminded myself of the same experience as AT & T is soon to be exhausted LTE network, the difference seemed almost insignificant.

But my perception of how time goes in the millisecond area aside, Facts are fact: In all with one of the dozens of speed tests I have performed in and around the Marriott hotel in Irving, Texas, about 10 kilometers northwest of Dallas Sprint's 5G network, at 27 to 45 times the speed of my 4G service. At its highest level, the network dropped data at 528 Mbps. There are two and a half times the speed of the fixed Spectrum broadband service I have at home, which is just 19 miles east of the hotel, just off the reach of Sprint's 5G antennas.

In my opinion, the question of whether someone actually needs phone service is irrelevant. For me, it seems appropriate to celebrate its present utility. The stupid Field of Dreams cliche is almost worth writing, because as with all technology, once it is ubiquitous, the potential is inevitably tapped to max. For now, however, early adopters of 5G will at least achieve some pretty sweet bragging rights. And not kids yourself, it has a lot of market value. Over the next year, 5G users can even spend dozens of fewer minutes staring at loading icons. It is also undoubtedly worth something.

Photo: Gizmodo / Dell Cameron

In Dallas, Sprint's new 5G NR radio) is supposed to reach around 1, 6 million people in a footprint covering 575 square kilometers. The service also launched Thursday in Houston, Kansas City and Atlanta. Overall, 11.5 million people achieved coverage, in which the Sprint CTO John Saw called "5G's largest initial footprint in the United States." In the coming weeks, the company expects to expand to New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix, and Washington DC

The core technology behind the development is called Massive MIMO (multiple input / multiple output). The most important thing to know here is that Sprint's 5G tower is equipped with a total of 128 antennas – as opposed to 4 to 8 on traditional basal towers – including 64 transmitters and 64 receivers. These dozens of extra antennas increase each tower's capacity significantly. Unlike the AT & T's super high frequency "millimeter wave" band (28GHz and 39GHz) and T-Mobile's low band portfolio, Sprint utilizes the mid-range 2.5GHz spectrum. This is something that T-Mobile is very eager to access through its proposed merger, and makes it absolutely essential to provide an "ideal mix of coverage and capacity."

Saw bragged that Sprint is the only operator to use what the company calls "split mode", the ability to deliver LTE Advanced and 5G NR services simultaneously. "We can actually kill two birds with a stone," he said and noted, in a jab that was probably aimed at AT&T, that this cannot be achieved using millimeter wave.

Sprint was determined on Thursday to show the network its muscle to a classroom-wide team of journalists. Having posed them with breakfast burrito and coffee meat, it was a half hour presentation to exploit the company's performance, including statements by Sprint's CEO, Michael Combs, executive vice president Fredrik Jejdling, and Dr. In-Kyung Kim, the company's director of research and development. . After the summary, the reporters were ushered outside and on a mischievous bus for a short drive, aiming to demonstrate the seamlessness of the network handover experience.

Screens in the bus ran a continuous speed test, which peaked at well over 500 Mbps and rarely dipped below 300, except when the speed test app forced to update. The download speed appeared twice as fast while on the go, than on the second floor of the hotel, where it seemed to be around 200 Mbps.

Photo: Dell Cameron (Gizmodo)

After a mile or more, the bus was stopped next to a large green dumpster filled with hay bales and a busted brown sofa. Ryan Sullivan, Sprint's vice president of product engineering and development, stood up to pick up the passengers. "We lived on the entire 5G network all the way," he said. "It's really what we wanted to demonstrate here – is that this is not a 5G hotspot network." The note was meant to be a snub against Sprint's competitors, whose networks it attempts to portray as "spotty" and unreliable while on the move.

It's not wrong. Take the Chicago Loop, an area less than two square miles along the city's waterfront, where Verinson's 5G cells have been up for almost two months. In April, Gizmodo found that while customers were able to achieve download speeds of up to 500 Mbps, the service worked in just 19 out of 50 crosses in the area. To Verinson's credit through, it does not attempt to downplay the uneven coverage. "We're still trying to learn," said a Chicago Tribune spokesperson, who also found that the service mostly lives up to the hype, "when it works."

Sullivan claimed the route we were on in Dallas included a total of three transfers, which means we connected to three separate towers during a 30-minute ride. The speed tests, at least, seemed mostly unaffected, beyond the various fluctuations one would normally expect. The depth of speed that arises during handoffs, he said, should be too short for users to appreciate. "This is broad coverage," he said, "like the characteristics of what you expect with LTE."

Promoting his planned $ 26.5 billion merger with T-Mobile, which received FCC chairman Ajit Pai's blessing this month, was also a major part of Sprint's demo. Its leaders argued that the merger would actually promote competition, despite how contradictory it sounds. "You can expect our competitors not to stand still," said CEO Combs. "That means they will also be forced to accelerate their own 5G plans to stay in the race."

The Ministry of Justice, whose approval the agreement requires, seems less convinced. Reuters reported this month that government lawyers were prepared to block the merger. And Bloomberg reported that a solution could force T-Mobile and Sprint to spin off a new competitor with a view to refilling the gap after the two became one.

Asked if the company had separate drawings for its 5G future one for a successful merger and another in case the deal is broken-Combs said Thursday's rollout should show that the company has its schedule to stay independent of the outcome. "What I also want to say is that we will quickly meet some limitations," he added.

Combining the company's capabilities with T-Mobile's low-band spectrum, he insisted is important in moving the 5G forward in the future. And that can be the truth. There is no shortage of industry experts who say so much. Consumer associations, on the other hand, find Sprint's demand that large market consolidations encourage competition insane. Gigi Sohn, a leading public lawyer and former senior FCC advisor, called behavioral issues written into the proposal to protect consumers "speculative, unfounded and completely unwieldy."

Nothing in T-Mobile's submission suggests that they are able to meet the goals they have posted, she said, "and much like the broken promises of other major broadband, telephone and cable providers, they are very optimistic . "

When it comes to hardware, Sprint claims the title of largest portfolio of 5G devices in the United States, including the LG V50 ThinQ and HTC 5G Hub, a hotspot-like device equipped with a touch screen that supports up to 20 connections that can soon replace fixed broadband service in some homes. This summer, Sprint customers will also be able to use their 5G network using a version of Samsung's Galaxy S10 phone.

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