Samsung touts vRAN role in C-band Massive MIMO demo

Samsung 5G
The demo leveraged E-UTRAN technology with 40 MHz of 4G frequency and 100 MHz of 5G frequency on C-band spectrum. (Samsung)

Samsung Electronics is claiming an industry first: Its commercial 5G virtualized RAN (vRAN) supports its latest C-band Massive MIMO radios. The company also achieved a top 5G vRAN speed exceeding 1.5 Gbps on C-band (3.7-3.98 GHz) spectrum.

The company said it’s conducting field trials using these products and expects to commercialize the solution this year. The speed results were achieved during a demonstration at a Samsung lab in Korea.

The demo used E-UTRAN New Radio Dual Connectivity (EN-DC) technology combining 40 MHz of 4G frequency and 100 MHz of 5G frequency on the C-band spectrum, according to a press release. With the dual connectivity approach, Samsung was able to reach 2.25 Gbps overall on a single user device. 

The demo featured Samsung’s latest vRAN, C-band 64T64R Massive MIMO radios and a cloud-native 5G core.

Samsung’s vRAN, which already is used in providing services on low-band spectrum in the U.S., proved its capability to support Massive MIMO radios through this experiment, according to Samsung.

“By combining our true vRAN solution and powerful C-Band 64T64R Massive MIMO radio for the first time in the industry, Samsung achieved a significant breakthrough, increasing the throughput ten-fold, improving user experience and showing our leadership in virtualized technology” said Junehee Lee, EVP and head of R&D, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics, in a statement.

The announcement comes less than two months after Samsung unveiled a radio portfolio designed to support U.S. rollouts of C-band spectrum.

RELATED: Massive MIMO key for C-band, as Samsung debuts radio portfolio

One of Samsung’s customers is Verizon, the biggest spender in the FCC’s C-band auction, which is using Samsung’s vRAN and Massive MIMO radios. Samsung's Massive MIMO radio unit incorporates 3D beamforming and support for the full 280-megahertz range of C-band auctioned by the FCC.

Samsung says its vRAN solution enables mobile operators to bring greater flexibility, scalability and resource efficiency in network management in various spectrums in Time Division Duplex (TDD) and Frequency Division Duplex (FDD). It supports both outdoor and indoor radio solutions for carrier and private radio networks.

“Operators consistently tell us that RAN virtualization is a priority as they look to accelerate their 5G network and service deployments,” said Peter Jarich, head of GSMA Intelligence, in a statement. “Samsung’s latest demonstrations will be well-received, signaling that 5G vRAN is a viable option, achieving performance on par with purpose-built hardware.”

Massive MIMO is a key component to mid-band deployments and played a starring role in Sprint’s 2.5 GHz deployment, of which Samsung was a vendor. However, Samsung isn’t a primary vendor for T-Mobile, which is now deploying Sprint’s trove of 2.5 GHz spectrum for 5G. T-Mobile’s main infrastructure vendors are Ericsson and Nokia.