Samsung, KT launch South Korea’s first SA 5G network
South Korea - the world’s first country to switch on a commercial 5G network - has made the next big step in its 5G rollout.
Samsung, the world’s leading electronics manufacturers, working in collaboration with one of Korea’s major telecom carriers KT Corp, has switched on the country’s first commercial stand alone (SA) 5G network.
“Samsung is proud to play a leading role in placing Korea at the forefront of network technology innovation,” said Seungil Kim, Vice President and Head of Korea Business, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics. “Our reliable and flexible 5G SA architecture, powered by our 5G RAN and Core, will enable KT to offer its users the next generation of enhanced use cases and mobile experiences.”
The launch of the SA 5G network builds on the recent collaboration between Samsung and KT to launch Korea’s first 5G SA and Non-Standalone (NSA) common core in the operator’s commercial network.
SA 5G is widely hailed as the end goal for the technology’s rollout. In order to get 5G networks up and running so quickly, many operators (including KT) initially piggybacked their 5G services on existing 4G infrastructure services. These NSA networks were quicker and cheaper to get up and running, but don’t fully deliver on the promised speeds and capacity of 5G.
Now, however, Samsung claims that KT’s new SA 5G network will allow the company to fully realise the potential of 5G communications, noting that the commercial launch “opens up new business opportunities for service providers, enabling them to reduce time-to-service, and accelerate a new generation of use cases and opportunities for consumers and businesses.”
Pressure has been mounting over the past year on Korean carriers to improve the coverage and speeds of their network, following customer dissatisfaction with network performance. Earlier this year, KT - along with fellow operators SK Telecom and LG U+ - ended up facing an $890,000 class action lawsuit over underwhelming 5G coverage and price hikes by “hundreds” of smartphone users that claimed to be unhappy with paying higher prices for “spotty connection” and poor 5G network quality.
Kim added in Samsung’s statement to the press that “By introducing 5G SA services in Korea, we are taking a meaningful step in [Korea’s] 5G journey, and look forward to delivering more transformative experiences to customers and businesses with KT.
Verizon, Samsung complete 5G data session on C-band spectrum
U.S telecom Verizon, in partnership with Samsung Electronics, has completed a trial of a 5G data session over the C-band spectrum. The test was conducted in a live network environment using cloud-native, end-to-end virtualisation in preparation for Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband expansion.
Adam Koeppe, Senior Vice President of Technology Planning at Verizon, said: “We have been driving the industry to large-scale virtualisation using the advanced architecture we have built into our network from the core to the far edge. This recent accomplishment paves the way for a more programmable, efficient, and scalable 5G network. “Customers deserve more than mere access to 5G. They deserve 5G built with the highest, gold-standard engineering practices that have positioned Verizon as the most reliable industry leader for years.”
The importance of virtualisation in optimising 5G network performance
According to Samsung, Virtualisation plays a vital role in delivering advanced 5G network services. This is due to 5G use cases such as IoT solutions, more robust consumer devices and solutions, AR/VR, remote healthcare, autonomous robotics in manufacturing environments, and ubiquitous smart city solutions, becoming more dependant on the programmability of virtualised networks.
Pleased with the result of the trial, Junehee Lee, Executive Vice President and Head of R&D, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics, said: “We’re proud to mark another milestone following our first large-scale commercial 5G vRAN deployment for Verizon, which is currently servicing millions of users. This trial reinforces our commitment to helping operators evolve their advanced 5G networks.”
The trials used Samsung’s fully virtualized RAN (vRAN) solution built on its own software stack and C-band 64T64R Massive MIMO radio in coordination with Verizon’s virtualized core. “The trials achieved speeds commensurate with traditional hardware-based equipment,” the companies said.
Verizon claims that cloud-native, virtualised architecture provides greater flexibility aster delivery of services, greater scalability, and improved cost efficiency in networks”, allowing it to lead the way in network slicing and wide-scale mobile edge computing.
The technology also enables Verizon to respond quickly to customer’s latency and computing needs. Virtualisation aims to lower the entry barrier for new vendors in the ecosystem while entrants will be able to accelerate innovation and reduce operating costs, the companies said.
Verizon is planning to make the 5G C-band spectrum initially available to 46 markets by the first quarter of 2022, and provide the Ultra-Wideband service to 100mn people. Throughout the next two years, the company expects coverage to increase to 175mn people before reaching 250mn by the end of 2024.