LAS VEGAS—CES isn’t exactly known for wireless infrastructure. Vendors are largely saving their announcements for Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of February, where wireless gear is the name of the game.
But that didn’t stop Samsung’s networks team from raising the 5G profile at this year’s CES, blasting “5G” in brights lights to the throngs of visitors checking out the latest TVs, gadgets and virtual assistants at its booth.
“Our message is really around how networks is an important component of Samsung’s vision,” said Alok Shah, vice president of networks strategy at Samsung Electronics America. “We really think we’re well positioned to bring 5G use cases and applications to market.”
Samsung’s profile in wireless infrastructure is rising in the U.S. thanks to big wins with carriers such as Verizon, AT&T and Sprint. But the Korean company, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, actually has been involved in networks for the past 40 years.
Here in the U.S., it partnered with Sprint starting in the 2011-12 time frame on CDMA LTE macro gear, and prior to that, it won femtocell business with both Sprint and Verizon. It remains an LTE femtocell provider to Verizon.
On the device side, Samsung already has announced forthcoming 5G smartphones for both Verizon and AT&T.
Overall, 5G has come much faster than expected, from standardization to implementation and now commercialization, Shah told FierceWirelessTech. And although Samsung believes Verizon’s Home service constitutes a true 5G offering—it uses new spectrum, new equipment and new fundamental technologies like beamforming, all of which Samsung has been a part of—he’s not ready to take the bait when a reporter asks about the debate around 5G that heated up this week.
“I think everybody has a different definition for what 5G is, but … if you’re talking about introducing new equipment and new spectrum bands into the market,” that qualifies as 5G, he said.
“We’re excited to see stuff get out there. We really think that you’ve got to have that platform in place and then people can innovate on top of it with devices or use cases or whatever,” he said. “The work the operators are doing to drive 5G systems into the market, whether it’s here, in Korea or Japan, China or India—everywhere—is really beneficial because that’s the starting point for the ecosystem.”