The next generation of wireless technology will soon become available, and Sprint took one step forward toward such endeavors, demonstrating its 5G skills.
The carrier took to Santa Clara, California, to show off its technology at the Copa América Centenario soccer tournament. Sprint achieved blazing fast 5G speeds of up to 2 Gbps during the demonstration. The low millisecond latency of 5G was also impressive, allowing for a smooth test of a live streaming VR system from VideoStitch.
Sprint also wooed spectators with a video live stream in 4K ultra HD, boasting the fast, high-bandwidth capability 5G brings to the table. The carrier used the 73 GHz millimeter wavelength spectrum for the demonstration.
"We're proud to take a leadership role as the first U.S. carrier to demonstrate 5G at a large scale public event such as Copa América Centenario," touts Günther Ottendorfer, COO of Sprint. "It won't be long before immersive virtual reality systems and wireless 4K streaming become commonplace. We're excited to today give soccer fans a taste of the exciting applications ahead."
The demonstration employed beam stitching, which works by tracking the device in use, selecting the best antenna and sending the signal to a set location. Sprint's beamforming for LTE Plus uses a similar technology. The carrier will continue using beamforming for now, as it improves its network's efficiency. Sprint will eventually expand the capacity of its network through other techniques, such as multiple carrier aggregation.
Faster 5G will be a notable upgrade over the current 4G standard, but it will take a while to actually have it widely available. Sprint is the first U.S. carrier to test the technology in public, but other carriers have also been making their own efforts toward 5G deployment in the future.
Verizon, for instance, announced a 5G pilot test program earlier this year, aiming to complete deployment by 2020. AT&T has its own 5G tests in store, and things are looking up.
An FCC spectrum auction last month also showed strong implication, further paving the way toward fast and reliable 5G networks. AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile will likely spend billions on 600 MHz spectrum, but Sprint is not interested. Sprint already has plenty of 2.5 GHz spectrum – more than any of its rivals – and when it comes to 5G, it's considered low-frequency spectrum. This means that it should be better at penetrating walls and buildings and traveling farther, thus translating to wider coverage.
It remains to be seen how things will unfold in the 5G arena, but consumers will likely not be able to enjoy the blazing fast 5G speeds anytime soon. It's a long road ahead, but it's nonetheless great to see carriers are making progress.