SK Telecom and Samsung successfully test 5G in 28 GHz band

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SK Telecom claimed to have successfully tested a 5G system using 28 GHz band in an outdoor environment, in cooperation with Samsung.

The operator completed field test of 5G system based on 28GHz millimeter wave technologies

SK expects the test results to contribute to improving 5G service coverage, transmission speed and performance, and offer a guideline for the development of 5G services

The operator said the millimeter wave technologies applied to the test included transmitters, receivers and antenna technologies designed to transmit radio signals in the 28 GHz band, as well as 3D beamforming, which is the key technology that compensates radio propagation path loss in the higher frequency bands caused by the short wavelengths of millimeter waves and high atmospheric attenuation.

The Korean operator said this is one of the first cases of confirming the use of millimeter wave technology and will support further development of the services.

Millimeter wave occupy the frequency spectrums from 30 to 300GHz. They have short wavelengths that range from 1 millimeter to 10 millimeters. Currently in the field of mobile telecommunications, millimeter waves generally refer to 6GHz or higher frequency bands.

3D beamforming is a technique that improves the system performance by steering the antenna beam in both horizontal and vertical domains for a clear propagation path to the targeted user.

SK Telecom began developing 5G specifications since last year to build 5G trial services, and has already completed its development in March 2016. Going forward, the company plans to discuss specifications for 5G trial services at the 5G Open Trial Specification Alliance.

SK announced last year that it was building a mmWave system with Samsung at its test bed in Bundang. They have been conducting field tests using outdoor base stations and a vehicle equipped with a test handset since late last year to measure and analyze service quality in the field – i.e. service coverage, transmission speed, latency and radio wave/signal strength.

They have been looking at issues such as service coverage, transmission speed, latency and other radio performance indicators to check the quality of service. The tests used a 28GHz transmitter and receiver antenna and propagation direction control technology based on 3D beamforming. The latter is key to compensating for the high propagation path loss in the high spectrum. The results of the tests will contribute to building a pilot 5G network for testing later this year.

The Korean mobile operator said the test results will be key for the development of its 5G system, including a pilot to be built by the end of 2016.

The company has also published its 5G White Paper in 2014 and its guidelines for 5G architecture design and implementation in 2015 to contribute to the development 5G requirements and standards.

“This 5G field trial is one of the key milestones for the world’s first 5G commercialization,” said Cheun Kyung-whoon, EVP and head of Samsung’s Communications Research Team and Mobile Communications Business, in a statement. “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.”

“Building on its extensive experience and capabilities acquired over the last three decades in the field of mobile telecommunications, SK Telecom is set to maintain its leadership in the 5G era by leading the development of 5G technologies and services,” Park Jin-hyo, Senior Vice President and Head of Network Technology R&D Center of SK Telecom.

“With the successful field test of a 28 GHz millimeter wave 5G system, SK Telecom moves one important step closer to achieving the world’s first commercialization of 5G,” added Park Jin-hyo.

SK Telecom launched LTE service in July 2011, commercialized 150-megabit per second updates in June 2013, and 225 Mbps LTE-Advanced services in June 2014 through carrier aggregation. The operator also launched 300 Mbps tri-band LTE-A capabilities in mid-2015.

The operator finished 2015 with 18.98 million LTE subscribers, a 13.4% increase compared the year-ago period. LTE subscribers accounted for 66.3% of the operator’s overall mobile base at the end of 2016.