For those frustrated by choppy connections when watching mobile TV on their smartphones, Samsung has news. It’s been successfully testing wireless 5G at speeds of 7.5 Gbps. That’s 30 times as fast as current LTE technology.
That 7.5 Gbps is the fastest-ever 5G transmission rate while stationary, according to Samsung. The company also obtained what it calls an “uninterrupted and stable” connection at 1.2 Gbps while moving. It used a vehicle traveling at over 62 mph.
One of the more notable features of these recent tests is that they were conducted outside. Generally, tests like these are conducted in a laboratory setting. An outside environment will proffer interference, not found in the lab.
Samsung’s Millimeter 5G
The 5G frequencies that were used by Samsung in this test were at 28 GHz. That’s what’s commonly referred to as Millimeter spectrum, and is an ultra-high-frequency band. Current mobile devices generally operate from 700 MHz to 3.8 GHz at the most.
I’ve written about 5G for Millimeter before, in an article titled How new radio tech will solve the upcoming spectrum crunch.
Roughly what you need to know about this shorter wavelength found at high frequencies is that it doesn’t propagate well. It’s short, gets lost, and can’t move around objects, like a longer wave can.
However, it’s fast and there’s not much going on at that end of the spectrum, so there isn’t competition for the frequency. So interference isn't a problem...yet. Interference is a recurring issue in heavily used frequencies, like those in the 2.4-GHz Wi-Fi band, for example.
Samsung is using smart antenna engineering. That’s the only way it’s possible to get Millimeter to work for this kind of distance application, and particularly with a moving target.
Adaptive Array Technology
Samsung calls its proprietary smart antenna "Hybrid Adaptive Array Technology." It hasn't explained exactly what its version of adaptive array technology is, but historically adaptive array technology uses processing algorithms combined with multiple antennas.
Samsung and Millimeter
Samsung, as an organization, is worth keeping an eye on in this space. It’s been working on this kind of tech for a while, and had gotten 1 Gbps over the 28 GHz spectrum in May 2013.
Samsung’s Millimeter 802.11ad
Add to the mix that a few days ago Samsung was writing about its Wi-Fi project using 60 GHz spectrum. That’s over twice as high—or small, depending on which way you want to look at it—as the frequencies used in its 5G tests.
It reckons it will be getting 4.6 Gbps in that band, and says that speed is five times faster than currently available from consumer-oriented Wi-Fi radios.
Samsung has its eye on the transfer of movies from mobile device to home TV as an important future use for Wi-Fi, so it's aiming for the sky when it comes to speeds.
At 4.6 Gbps, it thinks uncompressed high-definition video can be streamed between in-home devices in real-time, with no delay.
Speeds, in this case, are dependent on new micro-frequency-oriented, wide-coverage, beamforming technology. Adaptive beamforming uses spatial filtering, which, very roughly, is a way of detecting the right signal and rejecting interference.
As with current 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi, 60 GHz is unlicensed spectrum, so it's suitable for widespread use—users don’t need an individual license.
There’s currently no 5G standard that’s been ratified, so it’s anyone’s guess as to how it will all end up. But the available and open spectrum at Millimeter frequencies, like the 28 GHz spectrum, is seductive for 5G mobile developers.
It will be the guy who can get the adaptive array antennas to work at these tiny, path loss-prone frequencies, outdoors, that wins in 5G.
Wi-Fi, at 60 GHz, will be slightly easier due to the shorter, less interference-bombarded distances found inside buildings—so it will likely be a better starting point.
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