Since the world's first 5G pre-commercial service was demonstrated at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in Korea, a number of countries including Korea and the USA are on the verge of full-scale 5G commercialization.
5G is designed not only to provide an improved mobile experience for existing smartphone users and IoT devices but also to meet the extreme requirements of mobile communications in future applications targeted for vehicles and factory automations. A key distinction between 4G and 5G is that 4G was designed as a general purpose mobile communications technology whereas 5G is designed as a mobile communications platform on which extensions targeted for different vertical services can be individually optimized. This characteristic of 5G is the reason why it is referred to as the connectivity platform of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Over the course of 2G, 3G, and 4G, Samsung has grown from a small terminal vendor to a major player in the mobile communications industry thanks to its emphasis on relentless innovation and research efforts.
In 2011, when standardization of 4G LTE was just completed and its commercialization was beginning, Samsung initiated its research into making mobile communications over ultra-high frequency bands a reality. This pioneer work on ultra-high frequency bands was the start of the first large scale research in 5G that would see major accomplishments in the coming years. In May 2013, Samsung demonstrated for the first time in the world that it was possible to achieve a data rate of over 1Gbps over a distance of 2km using 28GHz. In 2014, Samsung demonstrated in an outdoor environment, again using 28GHz, a seamless data transmission of 1.2Gbps for a vehicle traveling over 100km/h.
Since then, Samsung has made one technological advancement on top of another getting 5G technology closer and closer to the level required for commercialization. In September 2017, Samsung demonstrated seamless data transmission for a vehicle traveling over 200km/h as well as the world’s first 5G handover for a vehicle traveling at 192km/h.
For mobile communications, the importance of international standardization is greater than ever. It plays a critical part in shaping the direction of the industry and integrating different stakeholders; namely, mobile network operators, terminal vendors, network vendors, chipset vendors, and test equipment vendors. Every aspect of mobile communications is enabled and limited by how these international standards are defined. In short, it is the technical rulebook that allows chips, terminals, and networks to interact with each other to realize the transfer of wireless data.
The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is the largest international organization for the development of telecommunications standards, with some 500 organizations around the globe participating, including various regional standardization organizations, operators, vendors, and research institutes. 3GPP has established and managed global standards for multiple generations of mobile communications such as GSM & EDGE (2G), WCDMA & HSPA (3G), LTE-Advanced & LTE-Advanced Pro (4G).
Samsung has been an active participant of 3GPP for over 20 years and has led the technical development of 4G LTE standards. Based on the experience and technical leadership it acquired over the years, Samsung led the start of 5G standardization in September 2015. After the completion of the 1st 5G standard in June 2018, Samsung is actively engaged in the second phase of 5G standardization for completion by March 2020 that will enable new vertical services and improve 5G performance even further.
Global market analysis organizations such as GSMA and Strategy Analytics predict that the market for 5G terminals and network equipment will grow to an average of $130B in 2025 a result of the full-fledged 5G commercialization based on the first 5G standard.
Moreover, since 5G is expected to encompass not only the traditional mobile communications for smartphones but also a variety of vertical-oriented ecosystems such as manufacturing, media, and energy, the future of 5G market is likely to grow at an unprecedented scale.
As mobile communications technologies expand to infrastructure across a wide range of industries beyond the telecommunications sector, competition for development of infrastructure technologies and international standardization is rising. Already in Europe, China, and the United States, there are open discussions on the need for research on 6G, the next generation after 5G, and the first research projects are already underway across the globe.
Samsung Research is actively developing breakthrough technologies for mobile communications based on the technological competitiveness it has acquired over the years for 4G and 5G. In turn, such breakthrough technologies fuel Samsung’s global standardization activities.
Samsung Research will continue its efforts to pioneer research into new mobile applications such as self-driving vehicles, smart factories, mobile broadcasting, new media, and IoT to develop the necessary breakthrough technologies and reflect them into standards. Moreover, we will continue to focus on R&D of key next generation technologies such as wireless communication over Tera-Hz, RF components using advance material, and convergence of telecommunications & computing; technologies which will allow what we imagine today to become reality in the near future.
In an era where 4G LTE is already an integral necessity in our lives, what is 5G? How will it change our lives? What can we expect from it?
Since the days of analog technology in the late 1970s, commercial mobile communication has been continuously evolving with each new generation enabling new services. The LTE technology used in many of our smartphones for voice/video calls or video streaming is 4G. And 5G is the latest generation which was recently developed that will enable a whole new suite of mobile services. What sets each generation apart from each other are the technical breakthroughs that make such new services a reality..
With every new generation, technical breakthroughs are made to enable mobile communications over new frequency bands, with faster data rates, and offering new services. These technical breakthroughs are realized in the form of ‘standards’ which detail the radio access and network technologies to achieve the envisioned requirements of each generation.
In the early 2010s, when 4G LTE standards were just hot off the press and commercial 4G services were about to take off, there was already a forecast among the technical community that by the 2020s, this technology would no longer be able to accommodate the exploding demand for wireless traffic. A new generation of mobile communications that can overcome the limits of 4G would be needed. Many organizations in academia and industry responded by initiating research on next-generation
breakthrough technologies with Samsung Electronics leading the pack with its own 5G research initiative in 2011.
In line with such research movement across the globe, ITU (International Telecommunication Union) held a World Radio communication Assembly in October 2015 where they designated the official name of 5G as 'International Mobile Telecommunication (IMT)-2020' and published the technical vision of 5G.
According to ITU's definition, 5G is a mobile communications technology that can support a peak download speed of up to 20Gbps and a user-experienced download speed of at least 100Mbps. Also, it should be able to provide IoT services to 1 million devices within a 1km2 area and enable a seamless mobile experience onboard a train traveling at 500km/h. To accommodate these requirements, ITU also assigned a new spectrum range for 5G which is broader and higher than that defined for 4G. The spectrum range includes not only low frequency bands below 6GHz (including 3.5GHz), which are similar to the conventional 4G spectrum, but also the ultra-high frequency millimeter wave (mmWave) bands such as 28GHz and 39GHz which were never previously used for the purpose of mobile communications. 5G mobile communication has three key components: (1) enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB); (2) Ultra Reliable & Low Latency Communications (URLLC); and (3) Massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC).
Some of the new applications that are expected to be serviced over 5G are UHD-based AR/VR and holograms which require massive amount of data to be transferred from one point to another. Compared to 4G, 5G utilizes wider bandwidth as well as advanced transmissions using more antennas to achieve a data rate that is at least 100Mbps and up to 20Gbps for a user. For example, downloading a single 15GB movie takes at least four minutes for 4G LTE (at the peak data rate of 500Mbps), but only six seconds for 5G at the peak data rate of 20Gbps.
Another aspect in which 5G is technically superior to 4G is its ability to reliably deliver data with minimal latency. Latency, which typically is in the order of tens of milliseconds (1ms is 1/1000th of a second) for 4G can be reduced to about 1ms for 5G. For example, in a 4G network, when an obstacle appears in front of a self-driving car moving at 100km/h, a stop signal can be received only after the car has driven more than 1m. The same distance can be reduced to 2.8cm in a 5G network, drastically reducing the risk of vehicular accidents.
Besides the big jump in data rates and latency, 5G is expected to play a critical role as a platform for providing connectivity to various forms of IoT devices in homes and industries. 5G aims to enable connections for 1 million devices within an area of 1km2. Such connectivity on a massive scale is essential in order to accommodate an exponentially increasing number of IoT devices such as smart devices and sensors.