The greatest thing about wireless technology is also the most maddening thing about it, at least from the carriers’ viewpoint. It marches continually forward. Never resting on its laurels. Before one generation of wireless is completely rolled out, the next one enters the technology pipeline, while carriers struggle to get their return on investment.
True to form, before 4G is even completely deployed, Samsung Electronics is already talking about the next big thing, to borrow a line from its commercials. The company announced that it has successfully developed a fifth-generation wireless technology, based on an adaptive array transceiver technology, which will boast transmission of up to several hundred times faster than current 4G networks.
Samsung’s 5G technology transmits data in the millimeter-wave band at a frequency of 28 GHz at a speed of up to 1.056 Gbps to a distance of up to 2 kilometers. Using 64 antenna elements, the adaptive array transceiver technology is designed to overcome the radio propagation loss at millimeter-wave bands.
“The millimeter-wave band is the most effective solution to recent surges in wireless Internet usage,” said Chang Yeong Kim, EVP, Samsung Electronics. “Samsung’s success…has brought us one step closer to the commercialization of 5G in in the millimeter-wave bands.”
At the projected speeds, Samsung’s 5G technology would allow users to transmit massive data files including 3D movies, games, real-time streaming of ultra-high-definition (UHD) content and remote medical services.
Jake MacLeod, Gray Beard Consulting, told AGL Bulletin that bringing 5G communications in the Ka band was “a big jump ahead.”
Research and development of 5G mobile communications technologies, including adaptive array transceiver at the millimeter-wave bands, will take seven years. Commercial product introduction is projected by 2020.
The term, “5G,” is only being used for marketing purposes, because the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has not approved a standard, according to MacLeod. But Samsung’s role of being the first manufacture to market is an important one, he added. Samsung’s latest innovation is expected to invigorate research into 5G wireless and trigger the creation of international alliances for the long and involved standards process.
“From a historical perspective, this is very positive, because it puts pressure on other manufacturers to begin serious development in this area,” MacLeod said. “They don’t want to see a competitor jump out ahead of them. This is very good for the wireless industry.”
The competition for technology leadership in next-generation mobile communications development is getting increasingly fierce, according to Samsung. China established a government-led “IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Group” for 5G research in February 2012, while the European Commission also plans to invest 50 million Euros in 2013 to bring 5G services to the market by 2020.
The process of evolving from one generation to the next is hardly simple or clean cut. For example, the 4G LTE standard was proposed by DoCoMo in 2004 and it wasn’t until 2008 that the ITU set a standard, which called for 100 mbps for mobile and 1 gigabit per second.
“It is a long process that is required for global standardization. It takes years,” MacLeod said. “It goes through a huge negotiation process to hammer out what the technology is going to look like.”
After five years, LTE systems are still not operating anywhere near the levels specified by the LTE standards, according to MacLeod.
“We are still working out the bugs within the ITU spec for 4G,” he said. “We still have sub-generations within the 4G LTE that are not easy to deploy. Even voice over LTE is very difficult and problematic.”
New mobile generations have appeared about every 10 years since the first wireless phones came on the scene in 1981. Commercial 2G transmission originated in 1991 by Radiolinja, a Finnish GSM operator. NTT DoCoMo launched the first commercial 3G system in Japan in 2001.
“On average, the process of developing the next generation of wireless takes seven years, from conception to when all the bugs are worked out,” MacLeod said. “Then the technology operates for five years before the transition begins to the next generation.” Count on the carriers to hold onto their 4G LTE investment as long as possible, he added.
Thanks to 4G Americas for providing historical background on the standards development.