It’s a wrap: SK Telecom and Samsung Electronics Co. announced they have successfully completed the world’s first 4G LTE and 5G end-to-end network interworking trial in a real outdoor environment in Seoul.
To accomplish the task, the companies used the current 4G LTE commercial network in the 2.6 GHz band and newly built 5G networks using frequencies of 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz, as well as a virtualized core and a test device that supports both 4G and 5G technologies.
Apparently, they’re not fooling around when it comes to mobility. They live-streamed 360-degree virtual reality video between a user in a traveling car and another in the building in the Eulji-ro area of South Korea where the SK Telecom headquarters is located.
Understandably, the companies said the significant radio frequency (RF) challenge that they faced for this trial was with the dense urban outdoor environment consisting of closely situated office buildings and busy traffic in Eulji-ro.
Even though 5G will represent an entirely new paradigm for wireless rather than a mere upgrade like the ones from 2G to 3G and 3G to 4G, 5G will be intertwined with 4G LTE from the get-go and, presumably, for a long time to come.
SK and Samsung’s trial showed that users can experience seamless uninterrupted streaming service when transitioning from 4G to 5G networks and vice versa. Furthermore, they pointed out that this test also indicates a potential 5G deployment scenario, where end users still will be able to enjoy seamless mobile service going to and from 4G and 5G service areas during the initial phases of 5G network deployment where full coverage areas have not been fully built out.
“Users will be able to experience seamless communications service regardless of their location with 5G, in which the nationwide deployment of 4G will work together with base stations that support the 3.5 GHz band for wide coverage as well as the 28 GHz band for ultra-high speed transmission,” said Park Jin-hyo, senior vice president and head of the Network Technology R&D Center of SK Telecom, in a release. “We will continue from today’s success to solidify our stance as the leader of 5G commercialization.”
“Interworking between 4G and 5G is a prerequisite for the early stage of 5G commercialization. Likewise, the interworking between 3G and 4G was the key driver to foster the 4G eco-system and its commercialization,” said Dongsoo Park, executive vice president and head of the global sales and marketing team in networks business, Samsung Electronics, in a statement. “The success of the test has proved that end users’ demand for a seamless and better experience can be met, on 4G-5G-intertwined next generation network.”
The trial included a virtualization network consisting of virtual 4G LTE and 5G cores with software-defined network (SDN) technology.
Another critical element of the trial was to design and test network slicing technology, the companies said. The network slicing technology, which can be used by network operators to offer different services and service levels, was also evaluated to ensure consistent quality across diverse services in the multi-radio access technology (multi-RAT) setting.
SK Telecom and Verizon have been particularly aggressive in developing 5G before official standards are released. Last year, SK Telecom and Verizon signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to conduct joint studies and advance the standardization process for 5G. The two companies said they would also swap technical knowledge on LTE, IoT and network virtualization.