Sprint 5G Coverage and Plans
Sprint was the second major carrier to jump into the 5G pool, launching its network in select cities back in May 2019. Now it has further expanded both its coverage and technology, using a unique approach that provides both speed and availability. Let’s take a look at Sprint’s 5G coverage, plans, speeds, and more.
Sprint 5G Coverage & Availability
Sprint’s 5G network is currently limited to specific hotspots in a handful of major U.S. metro areas. Currently, Sprint’s 5G cities are:
- Dallas-Fort Worth
- Kansas City, MO
- Los Angeles
- New York
- Washington, D.C.
Why the small footprint? It helps to understand how 5G works. In a nutshell, 5G wireless technology operates on higher-frequency waves that provide much faster speeds and larger traffic capacity. However, these high-frequency waves don’t travel nearly as far as those on low- and mid-band spectrums.
To bring its “True Mobile 5G” network to life, Sprint has built its technology across extra channels within the mid-band 2.5 GHz spectrum it currently uses for 4G LTE. This gives it wider coverage than, say, Verizon’s and AT&T’s super-high-frequency—and super-fast—millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum, while still being able to transmit significant amounts of data. The carrier ultimately plans to utilize the high-band spectrum as well (and the low-band spectrum, if it completes its merger with T-Mobile).
Building on existing 4G LTE infrastructure also helps Sprint ensure that customers can access 5G and 4G at the same time without a drop in coverage.
How Do I Get Sprint 5G?
In order to access Sprint’s 5G coverage in the cities it’s offered in, you’ll need:
Your phone should automatically switch between 5G and 4G as you enter and exit Sprint’s 5G bubbles. Make sure you’ve enabled your phone’s “Voice over LTE (VoLTE)” feature to be able to jump onto 5G when you’re in a powered area.
Google Fi customers should also soon have access to Sprint’s 5G network, since it operates on the carrier’s towers.
Sprint 5G Speeds
|Sprint 4G LTE||True Mobile 5G|
|Frequency spectrum||2.5 GHz||2.5 GHz|
|Average download speeds||4-35 Mbps||115-255 Mbps|
|Latency||30-56 ms||30-56 ms|
As mentioned, Sprint’s True Mobile 5G network operates on its existing 4G LTE infrastructure, utilizing extra channels within the 2.5 GHz mid-band spectrum. 5G-specific radios and antennas installed on 4G towers provide faster speeds, though currently the latency for each remains equal.
Customers can generally expect download speeds between 115-255 Mbps, a mighty jump from 4G LTE, which offers downloads between 4-25 Mbps on average. Speed tests within True Mobile 5G pockets showed even faster connection times—up to 600 Mbps.
Sprint’s 5G Rollout Schedule
Sprint began dipping its toe into 5G back in late May 2019, introducing service to four cities. By the end of the year, it had expanded to cover nearly 16 million people within the select areas of the nine cities mentioned above.
Future cities and dates slated for Sprint 5G coverage have yet to be announced, but the carrier plans to continue opening up more capacity on its LTE network to accommodate 5G throughout 2020. Should its merger with T-Mobile come to fruition, the combined company aims to offer eight times the 5G capacity by 2024.
To access hotspots within Sprint’s 5G network, you’ll need to have an active line on one of its two 5G enabled unlimited plans—Unlimited Plus ($70/month) and Unlimited Premium ($80/month). The carrier touts its Unlimited Premium plan as best for 5G, as it supports full HD video streaming.
You’ll notice that you don’t have to pay anything extra to access 5G on your unlimited plan—but you will likely need to get a new Sprint 5G-enabled phone, so make sure to factor in that additional cost when assessing your situation.
Sprint 5G Phones
As exciting as Sprint’s 5G network is, it won’t get you anywhere without a 5G-enabled phone. There are a number of Sprint 5G phones available, including:
- Samsung Galaxy S10 5G
- LG V50
- OnePlus 7 Pro 5G
Once you’re set up with an unlimited plan that supports 5G, and you’ve got a 5G phone in hand, you’re ready to experience the fastest speeds yet.
Sprint 5G vs. Other Carriers
|Carrier||Availability||Frequency||Speed||Plan Cost (1 line)|
|T-Mobile||5,000+ cities||600 MHz||30–100 Mbps||$60-85/month|
|Verizon||Current: Atlanta, Boise, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Greensboro, Hoboken, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City, Omaha, Panama City, Phoenix, Providence, Salt Lake City, Sioux Falls, Spokane, St. Paul, Washington, D.C. |
Future: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Kansas City, Little Rock, San Diego
|28 and 39 GHz||600–800 Mbps||Extra $10/month on top of unlimited plan cost—waived for limited time|
|Sprint||Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Washington, D.C.||2.5 GHz||155–255 Mbps||$70-$80/month|
|AT&T||Birmingham, Boston, Bridgeport, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Milwaukee, New York, Pittsburgh, Providence, Rochester, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose||TBA||2x faster than LTE||$40-50/month|
Data correct as of 1/06/19.
As it continues to roll out its 5G network coverage, Sprint seems to land squarely in the middle of both speed and accessibility. Speed-wise, its mid-band frequency offers significantly faster speeds than LTE, but not the lightning-fast connection of Verizon and AT&T’s millimeter wave-spectrum.
Focusing on availability, Verizon currently leads the charge with its 18-city rollout, but don’t overlook Sprint’s coverage within the hotspots it offers. Because mid-band waves reach farther than high-band ones, its signal travels farther in those bubbles than Verizon’s does in its respective hotspot areas. For comparison, T-Mobile’s current 5G network operates on the low-band 600 MHz spectrum, which reaches farther and wider than any other network, but is just marginally faster than 4G LTE with speeds topping out around 100 Mbps.
For those in 5G-enabled areas looking to take advantage of noticeably faster speeds than those within the low-band spectrum of 5G, Sprint is a solid choice to consider, especially at the price of its 5G plans.