CES 2019: What The Country's Biggest Carriers Brought To The Table

5G Evolution

The biggest carriers in the land came out in full-force at CES 2019 and 5G was the name of the game. The next-gen wireless technology has been making headlines for months, promising lightning-fast speeds compared to 4G LTE. For Internet of Things (IoT) applications, such as asset tracking, smart cities, connected health, and wearables, 5G's speeds of nearly 20 times faster than today's wireless technology is a game-changer.

AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon each came to CES 2019 armed with network rollout plans, brand-new use cases, and partner wins. Here's what the four biggest U.S.-based carriers touted during the show this week.

AT&T To Harness 5G To Connect Hospitals, Light Up Sports Arenas

AT&T took to CES 2019 to show off some of its 5G use cases, which include boosting attendee and patient experience in hospital settings and stadiums.

Specifically, the Dallas-based carrier is partnered with Chicago-based Rush University Medical Center and the Rush System for Health to create the so-called "hospital of the future.” The system of hospitals and healthcare providers are using AT&T's 5G network to manage cellular traffic over local and wide-area networks. The carrier said it will be investigating the use of 5G for mobile connectivity for therapy, hospital operations, and patient experience this year.

AT&T also revealed plans to light up AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, with its 5G network during the first half of 2019. The carrier's 5G network is now live in parts of 12 U.S. cities, and its set to go live in seven more, including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose during the first half of the year.

Sprint Ties IoT To 5G

Wireless provider Sprint doubled down on the Internet of Things (IoT) this week, revealing that Greenville, South Carolina, will be the site of its first smart city. The smart city is being built on the carrier's Curiosity IoT platform and mobile 5G network. Additionally, the carrier said it’s building a smart vehicle test track in Peachtree Corners, Georgia -- also using the Curiosity IoT platform and 5G -- that will provide a 1.5-mile road that can be used to trial AI, robotics, and autonomous vehicle applications including vehicle-to-vehicle communications, vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, and over-the-horizon warning systems.

Sprint, headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, said that its first 5G smartphone from manufacturer Samsung will be available this summer. The smartphone will support multiple spectrum bands licensed by Sprint, including Sprint’s 2.5 GHz, 1.9 GHz and 800 MHz, according to the carrier.

Sprint also said it will push its mobile 5G network live across parts of nine U.S. cities by June.

T-Mobile Completes "World's First" 5G Data And Video Call

T-Mobile, the third-largest wireless carrier in the country, wants to roll out a nationwide 5G network all at once, rather than only introduce the technology to select cities little by little.

T-Mobile said at CES 2019 that even though its 5G network probably won't be ready for launch until 2020, the Bellevue, Wash.-based provider already completed what it is calling the world's first 5G data and video session on the 600MHz wireless spectrum band, as well as several 5G calls on the 28GHz and 39GHz bands.

The carrier explained at the show that the different wireless spectrum bands will deliver 5G services differently. While T-Mobile pointed out that while it is testing 5G across low-band, mid-band, and millimeter wave frequencies, carrier competitors AT&T and Verizon are only using millimeter wave as of today.

Verizon Touts 5G Partnerships

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg took to the stage this week to highlight the carrier's partnerships in the 5G area, which include the New York Times, Walt Disney Studios, medical technology company Medivis, and the carrier's own drone company Skyward.

Verizon and Disney are working together to investigate using next-generation connectivity to boost Disney's content production and transmission. Verizon also expressed its plan to be the first service provider and drone operator to connect 1 million drone flights over 5G.

Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon confirmed during the show that its first 5G-capable smartphone will be Motorola’s Moto Z3, and during his keynote onstage, Vestberg showed off Verizon's 5G network by calling Verizon's first 5G Home customer, based in Houston, Texas.