Samsung and Charter trialling 5G across the US

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Samsung has announced that it will be partnering with Charter Communications on a series of 5G lab and field trials across the United States to evaluate the use of millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum at the 28GHz band.

Samsung and Charter are also performing 4G trials at 3.5GHz using Samsung’s small cell technology in outdoor environments, which Charter senior VP of Wireless Technology Craig Cowden said will “support our overall wireless strategy”.

Charter, which acquired Time Warner Cable and will be launching as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) next year, would use Samsung’s small cells — which are miniature base stations — to hang its cable strand assets on.

The trials began a few months ago, Samsung said, and will continue until the end of 2017.

“These projects, with communications leaders such as Charter, will continue to lay the foundation for future business models and customer applications that tap the full potential of both 4G LTE and 5G,” Samsung Electronics America SVP of Networks Mark Louison said.

“Samsung holds a host of essential patents related to 5G standards, and recently announced commercial readiness of its 5G integrated chipset that will enable operators to deploy high-efficiency, low cost radios in a compact form factor and overcome high-frequency spectrum coverage challenges,” Samsung added.

The announcement came as Samsung also unveiled a new suite of small cell products for home, enterprise, and outdoor network coverage.

The new portfolio uses 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), and Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) networks, along with a cloud managed service for the deployment of the products.

Its first commercial CBRS products for outdoor deployments were also announced, with Samsung saying they could be used for offloading 4G traffic and for improving indoor coverage.

Samsung’s CBRS portfolio includes use of up to 150MHz of shared spectrum in the 3.5GHz band, and will be trialled with tier 1 US operators in Q4 2017 with expected commercial availability at the same time.

“Samsung’s CBRS solutions are designed for indoor use in homes and enterprises, as well as non-traditional operators, such as cable operators entering wireless or businesses creating private LTE networks,” Samsung explained.

“The spectrum band also supports compact and high-power products for outdoor applications.”

One trial of CBRS involved a demonstration of HD video streaming using a 20MHz carrier in the 3.5GHz band using the CBRS small cell product, Samsung’s vCore, and modified Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus smartphones.

Samsung has also been working with the Federated Wireless Spectrum Controller on CBRS interoperability testing, which allocates 3.5GHz frequency blocks under the Federal Communications Commission’s spectrum-sharing framework.

“Samsung is a market leader in the small cell space,” Federated Wireless CEO Iyad Tarazi said.

“The opportunity that freeing 150MHz of shared spectrum opens up for operators and enterprises cannot be overstated.”

Samsung’s LAA small cell solution, meanwhile, will increase network capacity and improve mobile speeds by aggregating the 5GHz unlicensed spectrum bands with operators’ spectrum, with trials of this due in early 2018.

The cloud managed service for its small cell portfolio will lastly make the operation, management, and monitoring of wireless networks more time and cost-efficient, Samsung said.

“It also enables those who control multiple cellular and Wi-Fi networks to manage them in one cloud-based platform, greatly simplifying wireless network administration,” Samsung said.

Samsung earlier this week said it would also be trialling new network technologies to attain gigabit speeds on Sprint’s live LTE network this month using Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (Massive MIMO).

Samsung plans to unveil its roadmap for the commercial deployment of a 64-transmitter and 64-receiver (64T/64R) solution, with plans to increase peak cell throughput eight-fold.

The electronics giant said it would look to commercialise its Massive MIMO solutions in October this year on the time-division duplex (TDD) band, and next year on the frequency-division duplex (FDD) band.

Samsung is also working with Verizon in the US, in May deploying their first 5G trial network using network function virtualisation (NFV) solutions in partnership with Cisco in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The trial network solution consists of a Cisco Ultra Services Platform 5G virtualised packet core with Cisco Advanced Services, as well as Samsung virtual RAN (vRAN) solutions, Samsung 5G radio base stations, and Samsung 5G routers.

Samsung and T-Mobile are also working on 5G lab tests and field trials, which are set to take place throughout 2017 using Samsung’s 5G proof-of-concept beam-forming technology in outdoor trials, as well as Samsung’s pre-commercial system in combination with T-Mobile’s 28GHz mmWave spectrum.

Samsung has developed a 5G antenna and a power amplifier and a 5G RF Integrated Circuit (RFIC) that will be used in base stations and radio access products.

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