Samsung will start testing gigabit 5G fixed broadband in London and 11 US areas

Samsung Electronics is starting trials with Arqiva in the UK and Verizon in the USA to offer 5G fixed wireless broadband at gigabit-per-second speeds

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Image credit: Arqiva

Samsung Electronics says it will start the UK's first 5G broadband network in central London, following earlier trials South Korea, China and Japan. In London, it will work with Arqiva, which is best known for DAB radio broadcasting. Arqiva has a licence to use the 28GHz spectrum across the UK, and will host a number of Samsung's 5G base stations.

Arqiva's CEO, Simon Beresford-Wylie, said: "Our trial with Samsung will demonstrate the enormous potential of 5G FWA as an alternative to fibre for delivering ultra-high speed connectivity to homes and businesses." He promised "1Gbps and significantly reduced latency (delay), along with super high reliability for mission critical applications."

Samsung also said it was working with Verizon to offer 5G access in the USA. It said customer trials will start in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas and Washington DC in April, "with a fifth location in Michigan starting trials later". Separately, Verizon said it "will begin offering 5G to pilot customers during the first half of 2017 in the following metropolitan areas: Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Bernardsville (NJ), Brockton (MA), Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami, Sacramento, Seattle and Washington, DC" - a total of 11 areas. It needs to test performance in different topographies and areas where different building materials are used, for example.

Samsung said in a statement: "In pre-commercial testing started from early December last year, the 5G system demonstrated multi-gigabit throughputs at radio distances of up to 1,500 feet (500 meters) across each of the different environments selected for the customer trials."

Verizon said its 5G network was able to support 4K video streaming with fixed wireless access (FWA) equipment. In tests, it can deliver speeds of well over a gigabit per second.

Whether it can be done profitably is another matter.

In the UK, there have been several attempts to replace broadband with various types of FWA. The most recent failure was UK Broadband's Hong Kong-backed Relish, which signed up only 15,000 customers before being sold to Three for £250 million. According to the Financial Times, "Three justified the price tag by pointing to the valuable spectrum owned by UK Broadband, which will help set the company for a 5G launch in the future."

Samsung has invested heavily in 5G and owns a number of patents in the field. On February 19, it "announced the commercial readiness of its 5G RF Integrated Circuit (RFIC) which is an important component that will be used in the production and commercialization of next-generation base station and other radio access products."

The RFIC chip's availability is behind the new efforts to deploy 5G in the field.

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