SK Telecom, South Korea's largest mobile carrier, and Samsung successfully tested a 5G system using 28 GHz millimeter wave technologies last Thursday, bringing the country a step closer to launching super-fast data for a host of new tech, such as VR, holograms, IoT, and driverless cars.
The two companies tested the system's millimetre wave transmitter, receiver, and antenna technologies designed to effectively transmit radio signals in the 28GHz band, as well as 3D beamforming tech.
3D beamforming is the key technology that compensates radio propagation path loss in the higher frequency bands caused by the short wavelengths of millimetre waves and high atmospheric attenuation. It is regarded as a crucial test for 5G to actually work.
South Korea was first to roll out LTE, or 4G, telephony for mobile communications. And it is widely acknowledged as a matter of pride that the country will be the first in 5G as well, aiming for February 2018 when it hosts the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics to show off its ICT prowess.
"SK Telecom is set to maintain its leadership in the 5G era by leading the development of 5G technologies and services," said Park Jin-hyo, senior vice president and head of SK Telecom's network tech.
The successful field test of a 28GHz millimetre wave 5G system moves SK Telecom one important step closer to achieving the world's first commercialisation of 5G, Park said.
SK Telecom and Samsung built the 5G millimetre wave system in August 2015 and have been conducting field tests with outdoor base stations and vehicles equipped with 5G smartphones from October of that year.
They need to find out the quality of the system, including service coverage, transmission speeds, latency, and radio wave/signal strength. The tests will help them launch sooner rather than later.
"This 5G field trial is one of the key milestones for the world's first 5G commercialisation," said Cheun Kyung-whoon, executive vice-president for research at Samsung's mobile business.
"Samsung will prove the feasibility of key technologies with SK Telecom. This strategic collaboration will lead to the early adoption of 5G communications and provision of immersive service experience to end-users."
SK Telecom said that the test results will be an important asset for building an enhanced 5G system, including its 5G pilot networks to be built within the end of this year.
Meanwhile, SK Telecom began developing 5G specifications last year to build 5G trial services, and already completed its development in March 2016. The telecom successfully demoed 5G network slicing technology last October in SK Telecom's research lab in Seoul.
Earlier this year, SK Telecom and KT formed an alliance with the US's Verizon and Japan's NTT Docomo to set testing standards for 5G networks.
Going forward, the company plans to discuss specifications for 5G trial services at the 5G Open Trial Specification Alliance.