Samsung joins 5G Americas, gets seat on board

Samsung 5G van (Verizon)
Samsung has been a partner in 5G fixed wireless trials with Verizon. Image: Verizon

Wireless industry trade association 5G Americas last week elected Samsung Electronics America to its board of governors, marking Samsung’s first foray as a member of the organization.

Given Samsung’s history in mobile devices and infrastructure, it’s a bit of a puzzle as to why the company wasn’t a member prior to this, but perhaps the industry’s move to 5G provided the impetus for getting on board. 5G Americas previously was known as 3G Americas and later 4G Americas before changing its name to 5G Americas in 2016.

“Samsung is excited to join other industry leaders on the 5G Americas Board to continue the rapid progress of mobile broadband in the Americas region,” said Juha Lappalainen, vice president, Technical Solutions, Networks Division at Samsung, in a press release.

Lappalainen is also Samsung's representative on the 5G Americas Board. “5G Americas has made significant contributions to the success of LTE in the Americas and Samsung is eager to contribute to that continued success with 5G,” he said. “Samsung is committed to active participation in key standards and leadership bodies, helping to shape and grow the mobile wireless industry.”

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No doubt, 5G Americas was happy to welcome Samsung to its board of governors, noting Samsung’s vision will enhance the work of the association in fully developing the capabilities of LTE and beyond to 5G. “Their industry achievements and wireless ecosystem expertise are valued in furthering the future advancements of next generation wireless technologies,” 5G Americas President Chris Pearson said in the release.

5G Americas’ board reads like a who’s who of wireless: América Móvil, AT&T, Cable & Wireless, Cisco, CommScope, Entel, Ericsson, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Intel, Kathrein, Mitel, Nokia, Qualcomm, Sprint, T-Mobile US, Telefónica and now Samsung. Notably absent from the organization's list of member companies is Verizon. 

Asked if there are any other key wireless vendors that are currently not a member of 5G Americas that the organization would like to see join, Pearson told FierceWirelessTech that 5G Americas is always open to new board member applications “that would add to the organization and contribute to the wireless ecosystem in the Americas. As an organization we don't speculate as to whom might apply or whom might be good additions."

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Derek Johnston, director, marketing and 5G business development at Samsung Networks, said Samsung's participation in 5G Americas was the “output of evaluating and prioritizing our overall global standards, association and other industry forum efforts.”

5G represents a unique opportunity in the sense that there are many use cases and applications under consideration that go beyond the traditional mobile network. “In addition to the 5GTF, 3GPP and our own 5G Summit initiative, Samsung sees 5G Americas as another valuable industry forum that is examining the potential new business models and implication to the technology and standards efforts,” Johnston told FierceWirelessTech.

In the U.S., Samsung has been involved in myriad tests and trials, including at 28 GHz, and it’s one of the vendors working with Verizon on its 5G fixed wireless trials in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas and Washington, D.C., with a fifth location in Michigan starting trials in late 2017. Services to be delivered to pilot customers include wireless internet access and Voice over IP calling.

Samsung is supplying its 5G Access Units for deployment throughout business and residential neighborhoods; the units will link radio signals to a virtualized core network that is set up within Verizon’s data centers.