Amid a bevy of 5G announcements from the GSMA's Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai 2016 and Informa's 5G World in London, Samsung Electronics is touting a breakthrough in 5G-ready antenna and power amplifier technologies to enable smaller, more energy efficient 5G equipment and devices at 28 GHz.
Miniaturization will be key in 5G, as Samsung pointed out, but it's not something vendors have necessarily focused on just yet. Across the industry, current prototype base stations and devices generally are large pieces of equipment – Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), for example, uses specially designed vehicles to move its 5G prototypes around.
Base stations typically occupy a full cabinet, while devices must often be mounted on the tops of vans or trucks for testing. Samsung noted that bulky prototypes are common during the early stages of network technology research.
But it is aiming to change that, and Samsung's new technologies are intended to be applied to both 5G base stations and end-user devices. Samsung said its new case-integrated antenna, which incorporates dozens of antenna elements in a module that is less than 1 mm thick – represents a critical step toward engineering both compact small cell base stations and user devices.
Samsung also developed power amplifiers for use with millimeter wave signals to drive each antenna. The power amplifiers – which it noted are the primary point of energy consumption in the radio module of a device – convert the low-power signal of a device into a high-power signal suitable for transmission over the air. Samsung's power amplifiers simultaneously double output power and improve energy efficiency by more than 50 percent, the company said.
Elsewhere in 5G, Ericsson and King's College London were demonstrating 5G tactile robotic surgery at 5G World in London, while Nokia (NYSE:NOK) laid claim to making the first-ever demonstration of a 5G network running on commercial platforms as part of its showcase at 5G World.
Specifically, Ericsson and King's College set out to demonstrate the "Remote Control and Intervention" 5G medical use case using a probe as a robotic representation of a biological finger that gives the surgeon the sense of touch in a minimally invasive surgery. The probe, or robotic finger, is able to identify cancer tissue and send information back to the surgeon as haptic feedback, according to a press release. Visitors to Ericsson's stand were invited to experience 5G latency by controlling the movements of the robotic finger with a haptic glove.
"Through this 5G simulation demonstration we can show how latency is a critical part of what 5G can deliver, bringing both the sense of touch and an essential real-time video feed to remote surgery," Valter D'Avino, head of Ericsson Western & Central Europe, said in the release.
Meanwhile, Nokia's 5G-ready network followed the launch of its AirScale Radio Access technology in February and included work with its Cloud Packet Core. Nokia Bell Labs also aimed to demonstrate a new concept in network slicing, which will create and automatically map capabilities for the radio, transport, core and application layers into a discreet network "slice." Using cloud orchestration, new services can be created instantly and delivered to meet the specific and diverse demands of any customer or application, such as providing low-latency support to control machines in a factory, or providing extreme high-speed broadband to enterprises and homes.
At MWC Shanghai, Ericsson, SK Telecom and Deutsche Telekom announced plans to deploy a 5G trial network in South Korea and Germany, describing it as the world's first transcontinental 5G trial network. Ericsson will be the sole infrastructure supplier in that deal. The three companies will deploy a trial network in South Korea and Germany that used key 5G technologies such as NFV, software-defined infrastructure (SDI), distributed cloud and network slicing.
All this 5G news comes as the 3GPP Technical Specifications Groups (TSG#72) announced it has agreed on a detailed work plan for Release-15, the first release of 5G specifications. 3GPP's plan included a set of intermediate tasks and check points to guide the ongoing studies in the Working Groups. These will get 3GPP in a position to make the next major round of work plan decisions when transitioning from the ongoing studies to the normative phase of the work in December 2016.
"We now have a more concrete plan to guide the studies in the Working Groups and to put us in the position to address both short term and long term opportunities of 5G," Dino Flore, chairman of 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) TSG RAN, stated in an official announcement.
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