We keep hearing that 5G is coming … coming … and coming. Up to recently, this has mostly been about hype and anticipation only. Well, Samsung Electronics on Oct. 22 actually made a major move toward making 5G wireless a daily reality for consumers and businesses.
The huge electronics maker unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Los Angeles one of the actual instruments of this progress: a new 5G New Radio (NR) Access Unit (AU) supporting 28GHz spectrum. This new AU brings together a radio, antenna and digital unit into one compact box, making it the industry’s first integrated radio for mmWave spectrum, compliant to the 3GPP NR standard. This is the type of component that will be used to carry the 5G networks around the world.
Earlier this year, Samsung Networks successfully deployed its first-generation 5G NR radio base stations in the U.S. with separated radio and digital units (RU-DU separated radio). By integrating these RU-DU technologies with 1,024 antenna elements for mmWave spectrum into one compact box, Samsung claims the new AU can be more easily installed on streetlight poles and building walls, providing operators a faster, simplified way to build out 5G networks.
Millimeter wave spectrum is the band of spectrum between 30 GHz and 300 GHz. Wedged between microwave and infrared waves, this spectrum can be used for high-speed wireless communications as seen with the latest 802.11ad Wi-Fi standard (operating at 60 GHz).
The new AU is able to deliver capacity of 10Gbps throughput, enabling operators to deliver higher 5G NR speeds to more users. Additionally, improved cost-efficiency is achieved by eliminating the need for so-called fronthaul fiber connections, thanks to the AU’s integration of the digital unit.
The fronthaul portion of a C-RAN (Centralized Radio Access Network) telecommunications architecture comprises the intermediate links between the centralized radio controllers and the radio heads (or masts) at the "edge" of a cellular network.
Samsung is currently shipping the new AU to a U.S. Tier 1 mobile network operator, which it declined to name at this time.
“Cultivating mmWave spectrum provides infinite opportunities by unlocking 5G’s full potential,” Paul Kyungwhoon Cheun, Executive Vice President and Head of Networks Business at Samsung Electronics, said in a media advisory.
New SoC Modem Increases 5G’s Efficiency
Additional innovations to Samsung’s new AU are made possible by Samsung’s in-house 5G RF chipset, announced earlier this year, and the company’s first 5G NR system-on-a-chip (SoC) modem (S9100), also announced Oct. 22. This chipset, Samsung said, enables a 25 percent reduction in size, weight and power consumption when compared to the same solution without an embedded 5G RF chipset. The AU’s new 5G NR modem substantially increases power efficiency.
In addition to launching the new AU, Samsung is expanding its 5G portfolio to help operators have wider choice in selecting radio solutions for different deployment scenarios. The company currently has commercial solutions for 2.5GHz, 3.5-4.1GHz, 26-28GHz and 39GHz and at MWC 2019 launched a new 5G RFIC chip for the 24-27GHz spectrum, which will support new radios in 2020.
The Samsung 5G lineup now includes a mix of integrated and non-integrated architectures as well as transceiver paths (4T4R and 2T2R) to meet multiple deployment scenarios for operators – outdoor pole-mount, strand-mount, in-building, and others.