News Feature | January 19, 2018

The Week In 5G: 1/19/2018 – Samsung And Ericsson Unveil New 5G Gear, AT&T Cuts Ties With Huawei

By Jof Enriquez
Follow me on Twitter @jofenriq

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Samsung is planning to become the third major player in the 5G modem chip market when it reveals its first 5G modem chip for smartphones in the second half of this year.

A prototype of the Samsung Exynos 5G modem chip was displayed in a private exhibition at CES last week, according to Business Korea. The chip supports frequency bands below 6 GHz, as well as high-frequency 28 GHz and 39 GHz mmWave bands, and is backwards compatible with existing 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE networks. The prototype will be shipped to the Wireless Business Division of Samsung Electronics in the second half of this year.

Qualcomm announced in October the world’s first 5G connection of its Snapdragon X50 5G modem, while Intel presented its XMM8060 5G commercial modem chip the following month. The chips are scheduled to officially launch in the first half and the middle of 2019, respectively. 

At around the same time, Ericsson is planning to launch its 5G Radio Dot indoor small cell solution, the company announced this week.

"Adding small cell solutions to our 5G portfolio is a natural part of the network evolution," Ericsson head of Product Area Network Infrastructure Nishant Batra said. "Enterprises have been asking for first-rate connectivity indoors, as well as higher speeds and capacity to serve advanced use cases that cannot be addressed by traditional indoor systems."

Before launching in 2019, Ericsson expects to complete trials of this technology, an extension of the company's previous 4G Radio Dot System already used in indoor venues around the world.

U.S. carriers and partners are hoping to get these technologies and 5G standards hammered out by 2019 or 2020, when they plan to launch commercially. Some of these partnerships have ended prematurely, though.

Earlier this month, AT&T, the No. 2 wireless carrier, had to scrap plans to offer customers Huawei phones. This week, Reuters reports that AT&T was pressured by U.S. lawmakers, citing national security concerns, to cut commercial ties with Huawei, including its collaboration with the Chinese company over 5G standards.

Legislators reportedly also opposed plans by telecom operator China Mobile to enter the U.S. market. The Congressional actions also appeared to coincide with Chinese firm ZTE’s claim at CES that it would launch its first 5G phone in the United States by early 2019, noted Venture Beat.

In 5G trials news, French telecoms regulator Arcep has given temporary permission to operators Orange, SFR Group, Bouygues Telecom, and Iliad to use the 3.4-3.8 GHz and the 26 GHz bandwidths, reports Reuters. The 5G trials will be conducted in in the metropolitan areas of Lyon, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lille, Le Havre, Saint-Étienne, Douai, Montpellier, and Grenoble, according to RCR Wireless.

Data from the trials will help inform the regulator on the ideal allocation procedure for future 5G licenses, a key part of France's national 5G strategy, due for release sometime during the first quarter of 2018.

Meanwhile, U.K. regulator Ofcom plans to grant licenses for use of the 2.3 GHz band (2350-2390 MHz) and the 3.4 GHz band (3410-3480 MHz and 3500-3580 MHz) via an auction. Ofcom says it will publish auction regulations and bidding guidance for the spectrum award process on Jan. 24, 2018. The winning bidders, as well as whether Ofcom will follow through on its proposal to impose an overall spectrum cap at 340 MHz, will be announced after The Court of Appeal makes its decision in a case filed by operators Three and BT/EE.

In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is planning to hold several more spectrum auctions. But while FCC arguably has done a commendable job with spectrum management, some observers believe the agency can best help accelerate 5G through deregulation and stepping out of the way.

"The way to proceed is to auction broad, liberal spectrum rights to competitors. Restrictions on services, devices or business models should be eliminated," writes Reuters contributor Thomas W. Hazlett. "Auctioning spectrum rights and eliminating needless restrictions is the better way to discover our 5G future."