By Barry Levine / Mobile Tech Today. Updated May 13, 2013.
Download a high-def movie on your smartphone in less than a second. That's one of the possibilities that could be commonplace within a decade, if Samsung's new 5G technology takes hold.
On Sunday, the technology giant said it had achieved a breakthrough on a core component of 5G network technology that could provide speeds of tens of gigabits per second -- the first adaptive array transceiver operating in the millimeter-wave for the Ka bands, providing transmissions up to several hundred times faster than 4G. Currently, state-of-the-art networks, using 4G LTE technology, can achieve a maximum of about 75 megabits.
Chang Yeong Kim, Executive Vice President of Samsung Electronics, said in a statement that "the millimeter-wave band is the most effective solution to recent surges in wireless Internet usage." He added that the company's success in developing adaptive array transceiver technology "has brought us one step closer to the commercialization of 5G mobile communications in the millimeter-wave bands."
A Wider Pipe
Samsung said its 5G technology uses the 28 GHz waveband, and 64 antenna elements have been utilized to achieve a transmission speed of 1.056 Gbps for a distance up to two kilometers. The South Korean company noted that a high-speed 5G cellular network requires a broad band of frequencies, "much like an increased water flow requires a wider pipe."
Millimeter-wave bands had been thought problematic for long-distance transmission because of propagation loss, which the 64 antenna elements counteract. Successful development and deployment of its 5G technology could put Samsung in a commanding position in those markets, even if it is required to license the technology to others at a reasonable rate, as owners of essential technologies are sometimes obligated by law.
Samsung said it is planning to make the technology available by 2020, which is also when the European Commission has said it expects to have its 5G technology up and running. The EU said earlier this year that it was investing 50 million euros into 5G R&D. In February of last year, China established a government-run research group for 5G next-generation transmission technologies. The next stage of 4G LTE had been expected to be so-called 4.5 networks that feature enhanced 4G speeds.
'In the Real World'
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, said that, even though the speed of the still-rolling-out 4G LTE networks can seem quite impressive, more speed "is always beneficial." He noted that, "if we had devices with faster connections, we would take advantage of them."
Greengart added that consumers and businesses always seem to find some uses for faster access, plus there's the fact that, "in the real world," advertised speeds aren't always achieved. Often, networks and user congestion present constraints on actual throughput.
Another factor in favor of 5G, he said, is that "newer network technologies are often more efficient than the older ones, with a better use of the spectrum." He pointed out that this additional efficiency is "better for both carriers and consumers," because it allows faster speeds for consumers during peak hours and more customers for carriers.