Samsung announced on Monday that it has tested a technology the company is calling "5G" that can transmit data at up to 1Gbps, a speed that is up to ten times faster than today's LTE networks. The company said that it could
weaponize commercialize the technology by 2020.
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What's in a name? If it's "5G," nothing. That designation will be set by standards bodies around the globe, eventually, and no technology has yet been designated as a 5G wireless standard, though there are competing technologies making the proposal circuit.
This has all happened before and it will all happen again. U.S. carriers began advertising "4G" networks long before the 4G standard had been settled on, and the early such "4G" networks were anything but. That's one reason that "LTE" (Long Term Evolution) has become the marketing term of choice for those carriers that have successfully deployed LTE networks.
Which is not to say that Samsung has done anything wrong by pimping its accomplishment as a "5G" technology. This is the way this game is played as companies jockey for a piece of the standards pie. He who contributeth more patents to a standard maketh more drachmas, and there's a lot of public and private lobbying that is a part of that process.
Think of Samsung's announcement in terms of its other trade name, mmWave. It uses the 28GHz frequency, a frequency noted for its lack of robustness and range, just what you want in a wireless phone network.
The Verge noted a white paper hosted by the IEEE standards body that shows range with the technology is an issue. Samsung's advancement is to use a complex antenna array to overcome those limitations.
In its announcement, the company said that it can, "transmits data in the millimeter-wave band at a frequency of 28 GHz at a speed of up to 1.056 Gbps to a distance of up to 2 kilometer The adaptive array transceiver technology, using 64 antenna elements, can be a viable solution for overcoming the radio propagation loss."
Here's a diagram from page 48 of that paper, if it helps:
(Click on the image for a larger version)
There are a lot of obstacles to overcome before it can be brought to market, if it can be brought to market, but wireless carrier technology is an industry where Samsung has long been a powerhouse. The company has been very much a part of the last several generations of standards, as witnessed by the company's failed attempts to use standards-essential patents (SEPs) to fight Apple around the world.
If it can commercialize a 1Gbps network, it will probably have a transformative effect on the globe. That's enough data to transmit Ultra High Definition (UHD) video wirelessly, and it could allow the developing world to catch up to the developed world in terms of infrastructure almost over night.
And that's just for starters.