Samsung announces 3GPP Release 15-compatible 5G modem

The Exynos Modem 5100 also supports legacy radio access technologies designed into a single chip. (Samsung)

A lot of firsts are being claimed around 5G—U.S. carriers promising to be first to deploy in some form and vendors claiming various firsts—and now Samsung Electronics says it has developed the industry’s first 5G modem that’s fully compatible with 3GPP Release 15, the most up-to-date specification for 5G New Radio (5G-NR).

Dubbed the Exynos Modem 5100, the product supports legacy radio access technologies in a single chip: 2G GSM/CDMA, 3G WCDMA, TD-SCDMA, HSPA and 4G LTE. Having support for the legacy technologies is important as 5G gets built out.

The 5100 works at both sub-6 GHz and millimeter wave spectrum. In the sub-6 GHz environment, the modem delivers a maximum downlink speed of up to 2 gigabits per second (Gbps); in millimeter wave settings, it supports a downlink speed of 6 Gbps. Samsung said fast and stable data communication also can be secured in 4G networks with the downlink speed of 1.6 Gbps.

The Exynos Modem 5100 will be available to Samsung's customers by the end of 2018.

RELATED: Qualcomm reveals 5G NR mmWave and sub-6 GHz RF modules for smartphones

Last month, Qualcomm announced what it described as the world’s first full integrated 5G NR millimeter wave and sub-6 GHz RF modules for smartphones and other mobile devices. While mobile hotspots and mobile data cards are expected to launch this year, 5G smartphones are not expected to arrive until 2019.

Of course, Sprint and LG this week announced they’re building a phone that the companies believe will be the nation’s first mobile 5G smartphone. That Android phone will be available in the first half of next year, launching in conjunction with Sprint’s 5G network.

Sprint plans to launch mobile 5G services nationwide using its 2.5 GHz spectrum, while its proposed merger partner T-Mobile has said the 600 MHz gear it’s deploying now will be upgradable to 5G with a software update, laying the foundation for the first nationwide 5G network.

AT&T says it’s on track to launch the first mobile 5G services and deliver the first device, which has been described as a puck-like device, to customers this year. AT&T plans to initially introduce the mobile 5G service to customers in a dozen cities.

Not to be outdone, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg reiterated on CNBC that it wants to be first in the world with 5G; the company yesterday announced Indianapolis as its fourth market to launch with fixed wireless access before year’s end.