Sprint just announced the next phase of its 5G rollout: a “smart hub” developed with HTC that will launch in the first half of 2019.
The new device, which sounds like a mobile hotspot but could be more fully featured, will be Sprint’s second 5G product. The first is an LG smartphone exclusive to Sprint’s network that will also debut in the first half of the new year.
Sprint isn’t saying much about its 5G hub, other than that it’s built by HTC and will use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 5G modem to “deliver multimedia and connected data capabilities in a compact and portable design.” Sprint hasn’t yet announced the product’s name, features, specs or more specific availability.
Sprint plans to turn on 5G service in nine cities in the first half of 2019, likely coinciding with the launch of LG’s 5G phone and the HTC smart hub. Sprint's 5G network will roll out first in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C., with more cities to be announced.
We’re getting closer to seeing 5G become a reality, even if carriers and smartphone makers are keeping mum about definitive launch details. AT&T in October completed the first connection between a 5G device, in this case a Netgear mobile hotspot, and a live 5G network. This is significant because past tests have used pre-production hardware in lab settings.
Meanwhile, Verizon just launched its 5G home internet service, Verizon 5G Home, in specific neighborhoods in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento.
5G still has a ways to go before becoming reality for most Americans, whose first 5G-ready device will likely be a smartphone. But wireless carriers will continue to jockey for position, and Sprint is gunning to beat its rivals to the punch.