Over the past decade, Samsung’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of what is possible has paved the way to the development of the first end-to-end 5G solution. Samsung becomes the first company to introduce breakthrough consumer-centric 5G experiences, including Samsung’s first commercialized 5G smartphone, the Galaxy S10 5G, which was launched in South Korea in April.
But, the question is: What will 5G enable? Why is 5G important? How do consumers experience 5G today? and what were the challenges that Samsung had to overcome to commercialize 5G?
Two figures at Samsung, Dr. Won Joon Choi, Senior Vice President and Head of the Flagship R&D Team, and Dr. June Hee Lee, Senior Vice President and Head of the Technology Strategy Team, were integral in leading 5G-ready hardware and software development, and they recently shared their behind-the-scenes stories of 5G development and technology leadership in more detail.
5G technology will revolutionize what is possible on a data network, much like the unprecedented possibilities 4G unlocked when it launched. 4G put the internet in your pocket and opened the ability to work and play while on the go. With increased speeds and lower latency of the 5G bandwidth, 5G will offer more than just mobile advantages when compared with LTE.
“When 5G service is completely actualized, its capabilities will not be limited just to smartphones; the concept of a connected, autonomous vehicle can be fully realized, as well as smart factories and smart robots in the medical field, for instance,” explains Choi. “Video conferencing will no longer be in 2D but will take place in 3D,” adds Lee, “and furthermore, no one can imagine streaming 360-degree video on your smartphone with mobile data as it exists now, but with 5G, this will become a reality,” stresses Lee. But making this a reality has been no small undertaking.
In order to institute the 5G bandwidth, every aspect of the network infrastructure ecosystem, from antenna models to device chipsets, had to be reconfigured to account for its separate frequency range from existing bandwidths.
What It Takes to Champion 5G
The establishment of an end-to-end solution has been key to Samsung’s development of a global 5G network. From the beginning, the company took the unique approach of developing the capabilities to not only make a 5G device, but also to establish the necessary partnerships crucial to the full ecosystem roll-out, from chipset and infrastructure vendors to carriers and content & service providers.
The capabilities Samsung developed in these exploratory phases began more than a decade ago and allowed the company to stay at the forefront of each new phase of 5G development. The frequency 5G operates on, mmWave and Sub-6GHz, called for numerous innovations to device hardware and software, including a 5G modem chip, a 5G RF chip, RF front-end components, and 5G receivers. In 2013, Samsung successfully developed its first 5G proof of concept (POC) and, two years later, its first-ever pre-5G spec opened the door to other milestones – including the creation of a 5G smartphone set to 3GPP and international standards.
What has made Samsung a leader in 5G is its commitment to bringing together all elements of the development process, from research to development, not just on a mobile level, but on a global network scale. This network leadership is not without precedent for Samsung; the company also participated in setting the international network standards for the transition from 3G to LTE, and this experience, not only on a network infrastructure level but also on a consumer-facing one, meant the company was primed and ready to lead 5G development.
Understanding that a global 5G network infrastructure must come into full operation gradually, Samsung ensured its current service minimizes network interruptions by providing an LTE-5G transition period through Non-Stand-Alone (NSA) network standardization.
Creating a Device Built for the 5G Era
In order to ensure its first 5G device remained as user-friendly and intuitive as consumers have come to expect from the Galaxy series, Samsung developed a major hardware innovation.
This was not the only hurdle Samsung had to overcome with the Galaxy S10 5G; 5G networks consume a lot of battery power due to the large amount of data they have to transmit.
The most challenging issue Samsung addressed with the Galaxy S10 5G was developing technology to support 5G bandwidth, operating on the higher frequencies. On the software side, Samsung was dedicated to providing a seamless customer experience.
The Future of 5G Connectivity
Not only will Samsung’s achievements in 5G transform the mobile data experience for consumers, they will also have exciting implications for the future of Connected Living and will play a huge role in optimizing the operation and connectivity of devices that harness artificial intelligence (AI) and IoT (Internet of Things). “The world of 5G will bring so much potential into the future technology field, including helping the realization of smart factories and smart cities,” affirms Lee.
Not only does 5G offer eMBB (Enhanced Mobile Broadband) thanks to transmit speeds of up to 20 times what LTE provides, its URLLC (Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communication) minimizes the time it takes for data to travel from one point to another and mMTC (Massive Machine-Type Communication) paves the way for smart factories and supply chains.
5G is therefore crucial for industries outside of mobile. The ramifications of its implementation look to be truly global, and Samsung, who has been developing its solutions with this in mind from the start, is at the forefront of bringing about the 5G revolution.