Samsung Successfully Tests 1Gbps ‘5G’ Wireless Technology

| Analysis

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.

Translate the Man Behind the Curtain

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.

mmKay?

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:

Antennas!

Antenna Arrays
(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.

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4 Comments

b9bot

Okay, but most carriers don’t have 4G LTE setup yet so 5G is vaporware and will be for years to come. I certainly won’t be waiting for 5G before buying my next phone which also won’t be a Samsung copycat either.

furbies

What would the Antenna in the mobile phone/device look like ?

Lee Dronick

The antenna? Probably like one in an early cell phone or ‘50s era transistor radio smile

We are getting spoiled with the need for speed. I like it too, I am just commenting on how far we have come in the way of communication.

wab95

Bryan:

‘Weaponise’ is the correct term. This is war by other means, with Samsung putting the competition (specifically, Apple) on notice that the litigation party is only getting started, and that they have a rendezvous circa 2020.

As for the actual technology, think of this as Samsung’s Sputnik. This is really more a proof of concept, with some patentable tech attached, for Samsung to show the world that they are the tech powerhouse, that they are in the lead and that it is Apple who are trailing them.

The problem they face, however, is illustrated by history, and is not unlike that of the former USSR and their space race with the USA; indeed it may be more problematic for two reasons.

The first is that, unlike the USSR and the USA, which were both in a publicly open space race as an indicator and platform for military hegemony, Samsung appears to be in a spec race in which Apple appears to be a non-participant. Just as Apple succeeded in changing the theatre of objective of the tech wars from enterprise to consumer, Samsung have the challenge of convincing both industry and public that the goal is spec, rather like the Moon Race, in which the goal was to see who could get there first (Science? What science? It’s just a bloody rock). Thus far, they have not been successful, at least if Apple’s sales are an indicator.

The second, and related to the first, is that, just as with the space race, a string of ‘firsts’ is no guarantor of ultimate victory if none of these constitute the ultimate prize, however defined, as the USSR found in their space race with the USA (first satellite, first man in space, first woman in space, first man to orbit the earth, first space walk…Bugger! Lost the [Russian expletive] Moon!). Apart from the geek fringe (too small a market to confer a profit advantage), most consumers are less concerned about specs than about the ‘out-of-the-box-it-just-works’ user experience . Being the first to demonstrate proof of principle with experimental technology will not matter if the competition (Apple or anyone) provide a superior user experience when that technology becomes standard.

In any case, I salute Samsung’s competitive spirit.

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