Sprint says it’s going to have 5G next year

Look, I’m not saying that I doubt them but… I guess the real question is what you’re going to have to give up in order to make it work.

Our friends over at DSLReports bring us news that Sprint plans to “start its 5G launch in 2019,” using 50,000 small cells and what they call “magic boxes,” which are microcells operated by consumers which boost service in their own neighborhoods.

So I have to say, “yeah, right.”

First of all I remember Sprint’s 4G rollout ten or so years ago. There was one phone that would use the 4G network and it was this weird featurephone from a company I can’t even remember. The processor’s power management was awful, and you could get about 40 minutes of actual browsing time before you ran out of battery. But, they had the bragging rights, they had 4G before anyone else, regardless of the limitations.

Sprint has a habit of using weird technologies to get their network up and running and in my opinion that’s their biggest flaw. They have to convince major manufacturers like Apple and Samsung to support frequencies and technologies that no one else uses and that has meant that the top phones usually don’t support those weird technologies until the second or third generation. So if you really want to use “Spark” or “Niflheim” or whatever their latest branding for their latest weird idea is, you end up with a bottom-tier phone from ZTE instead of the phone you want.

There’s also their track record of declaring “mission accomplished” when their latest technology has rolled out to a tiny number of subscribers, meaning that anyone who rolls into a Sprint store hoping to get that promised and much-hyped new thing is going to be disappointed unless they happen to live within a few miles of Sprint’s corporate headquarters or the cities where they have a decent number of customers.

In the past I’ve been accused of being overly hard on Sprint and you’ll find a lot of articles on this blog where I make fun of them for making bad decisions. (Not as many as there used to be, I cleaned a lot of them out when I moved the blog to a new platform.) It’s not because I’m an AT&T shill, although I do think AT&T is the best overall communications choice. In fact my distaste for Sprint starts long before AT&T took over the reins of DIRECTV. I have been watching this company for literally 30 years and they almost always make the wrong decision when it comes to technology. I know their commercials that say “there’s only a 1% difference in reliability” but that doesn’t discuss the difference in download speeds or coverage of high-speed internet in fringe areas, two ways that they are seriously lacking. When you look at the sheer amount of technological baggage they’re carrying around, due to all their bad decisions over the years… it’s a wonder they’re still in business.

Hey look, I almost said something nice about Sprint. You might want to bookmark this page, as it doesn’t happen very often.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.