Samsung Electronics’ years of R&D into millimeter-wave spectrum appear to be paying off as the company says it will have a complete end-to-end 5G product portfolio commercially ready by the end of this year so operators can use it for fixed wireless network launches in 2018.
The portfolio announced ahead of the opening of Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona includes a 5G home router, 5G radio, next-generation core and networkwide management systems. Over time, the portfolio will support other millimeter-wave bands and sub-6 GHz, but out of the gate it will be a 28 GHz system.
“This is a full portfolio of products that will be needed to deploy fixed wireless networks,” which will be the 2018 use case for commercial 5G, said Alok Shah, VP of strategy, business development and marketing in Samsung’s networks division. “This is end to end.”
Besides all of the network components, Samsung recently unveiled commercial readiness of its 5G RF Integrated Circuit chipset, which is designed to strengthen the performance of the portfolio’s 5G radio and other radio access products. If it follows the pattern of other components, it will be available to other equipment manufacturers to incorporate into their products as well.
The question always arises how equipment providers are able to supply 5G gear when the standards haven’t even been finalized in the standards bodies. Shah said the expectation is that there will be an upgrade path for what’s initially deployed to a 3GPP-compliant version of the equipment. With fixed wireless, the upgrade process is a lot more manageable than it is for mobile, he noted.
Verizon announced last week that it will deliver 5G precommercial services to select customers in 11 markets throughout the country on its newly built 5G network, which is based on the tech developed with its partners in its 5G Technology Forum. It’s working with Ericsson and Samsung, the latter of which has deployed gear in five of the markets. The trials, planned to begin in April, will deliver fixed wireless access to customers to gauge user experiences and evaluate the performance of the technology.
Basically how it works is that access units are installed throughout a city’s business and residential neighborhoods, which link radio signals to a virtualized core network that’s set up within Verizon’s data centers. In precommercial testing, which began in December 2016, the 5G system demonstrated multigigabit throughputs at radio distances of up to 1,500 feet across each of the different environments selected for the customer trials.
Of course, Samsung will be in the 5G mobile device space when the time comes, but 2018 is really about the fixed wireless use case. As the 3GPP standards get set, “we’re hoping that mobility use cases will be able to get to market not too long after that 2018 time frame,” Shah said.
Samsung has done substantial work in millimeter-wave mobility, including a multicell handover in March 2016 with a vehicle traveling at 25 km/h that was able to move between three cells and maintain a Gigabit data transmission.
“We believe we’re really pushing the ecosystem when it comes to that path to mobility,” Shah said.