Samsung, T-Mobile to Partner on 5G Trials

The companies will use Samsung's 5G systems and T-Mobile's 28GHz spectrum for field and lab tests of equipment for next-generation networks.


T-Mobile US is partnering with Samsung Electronics America to conduct tests and demonstrations of equipment and technologies for next-generation 5G networks.

The two companies announced the alliance this week at the CTIA show in Las Vegas, with officials from both saying that the field and lab tests will give the industry a look at the benefits of 5G and how their technologies can enable customers to take advantage of them.

"We are excited to work with Samsung to see how we can bring to life key attributes of emerging 5G technology, including extreme speed, low latency and massive connectivity," T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said in a statement. "Our collaboration with Samsung's networks technology will enable us to enhance 5G development and availability."

5G offers the promise of much faster speeds—10 to 100 times faster than the average 4G LTE connections of today, according to AT&T officials—that will be measured in gigabits per second rather than megabits per second. It also will be better able to support the tens of billions of smart, connected devices that make up the internet of things and offer lower latency that will translate into improved richer content and better end-user experiences, according to Samsung officials.

The 3GPP (3rd Generation Partner Project), which also had set the 4G LTE standard, in March announced a tentative timeline for 5G that doesn't show a standard being approved until 2020. However, carriers and networking technology vendors already are moving ahead with 5G projects: AT&T and Verizon are among the service providers preparing field trials for this year, while Huawei Technologies, Intel and other tech vendors are making significant investments.

Samsung and T-Mobile will run both lab work and field trials, with initial tests later this year looking at 5G mobility in an outdoor environment using a 5G proof-of-concept system enabled by the company's advanced beam forming technology and T-Mobile's 28GHz (mmWave) spectrum. Early next year, the two companies will run more trials using a pre-commercial 28GHz system from Samsung.

Officials with Samsung and T-Mobile said they want to test network technology in "real-world mobile use cases and applications."

With CTIA running in Las Vegas, there was plenty of 5G news over the past week. Ericsson officials last week announced that upcoming NR radio for massive MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) support—combined with other 5G technologies the company has released—will give Ericsson the components needed for carriers to build 5G networks next year, which would put it three years ahead of the expected completion date of international standards for the wireless technology.

Ericsson also is rolling out technologies designed to enhance the performance and efficiency of current networks, with concepts the company said will become 5G.

Nokia officials are introducing incremental steps to 5G. The company already offers what it calls 4.5G products, and last week announced upcoming 4.5G Pro and 4.9G technologies that will help carriers more easily adopt 5G in the coming years.

At the show, Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), said during a keynote address that while 5G will show a significant improvement over current 4G networks, a key challenge will be getting cities and towns across the country to agree to having 5G equipment installed. Without that, they won't have access to the benefits of 5G.

The wireless industry will have "to tell the story of what 5G is—and not just in terms of technology, but as deliverables that mean something to real people," Wheeler said. "We will be unsuccessful in dealing with [not-in-my-backyard critics] and the recalcitrance of local authorities if all we talk about is engineering. We may all love the fabulous engineering in 5G, but if we want the technology to be successfully deployed, we need to talk about its benefits for people and their communities."