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Samsung claims 5G mmWave FWA milestone in Australia

Company set up to run Australian national broadband infrastructure hits milestones in 5G mobile during trials, achieving what is said to be an industry-leading speed of 1.75Gbps at a distance of 10km

Samsung Electronics claims to have created a long-range 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) benchmark achieving 10km (6.2 miles) transmission over 5G mmWave in a recent field trial conducted with NBN Co, the company set up to run the Australian national broadband network (NBN).

The network’s purpose is to lift the digital capability of Australia by delivering reliable, fast, resilient and secure broadband over the wholesale access network, working collaboratively with internet retailers to deliver the required customer experience, reduce cost, and drive industry efficiency and sustainability.

The network is seen as the digital backbone of the country, and is designed to evolve constantly to keep communities and businesses connected. FWA currently covers almost 650,000 premises across Australia.

NBN Co was established in 2009 by the Commonwealth of Australia as a government business enterprise with a clear direction: to design, build and operate a wholesale broadband access network for Australia.

As part of a AUD $750m investment in the NBN fixed wireless network (made up of AUD $480m from the Australian Government and supported by an additional AUD $270m from NBN Co), NBN will use software enhancements and advances in 5G technology, and in particular 5G mmWave technology, to extend the reach of the existing fixed wireless footprint by up to 50% and introduce two wholesale high-speed tiers.

The 10km link is the farthest 28GHz 5G mmWave FWA connection recorded by Samsung, and the company believes it demonstrates the expanded reach possible with the increasingly used spectrum and its ability to efficiently deliver widespread broadband coverage across the country. Additionally, across a distance of 10km, the company also said it achieved record-setting average downlink speeds of 1.75 Gbps and uplink speeds of 61.5 Mbps.

To achieve average downlink speeds of 1.75Gbps at such extended range, the trial by Samsung and the NBN used eight component carriers (8CC), which is an aggregation of 800MHz of mmWave spectrum. The potential to support large amounts of bandwidth is seen as a key advantage of the mmWave spectrum, and Samsung’s beamforming technology enables the aggregation of such large amounts of bandwidth at long distance. At its peak, the company also reached a top downlink speed of 2.7Gbps over a 10km distance from the radio.

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Samsung believes the trial demonstrates that 5G mmWave spectrum is not only viable for the deployment of high-capacity 5G networks in dense urban areas, but also for wider FWA coverage. It added that extending the effective range of 5G data signals on mmWave will help address the connectivity gap, providing access to rural and remote areas where fibre cannot reach.

For the trial, Samsung used its 28GHz Compact Macro and third-party 5G mmWave customer premise equipment. Samsung’s Compact Macro is the industry’s first integrated radio for mmWave spectrum, bringing together a baseband, radio and antenna into a single form factor. The offering is designed to support all frequencies in the mmWave spectrum to simplify deployment. It’s currently deployed in commercial 5G networks across the globe, including Japan, Korea and the US.

“This new 5G record proves the massive potential of mmWave technology, and its ability to deliver enhanced connectivity and capacity for addressing the last mile challenges in rural areas,” said Junehee Lee, executive vice-president and head of R&D for networks business at Samsung Electronics. “We are excited to work with NBN to push the boundaries of 5G technology even further in Australia and tap the power of mmWave for customer benefit.”

NBN Co chief technology officer Ray Owen added: “The results of these trials with Samsung are a significant milestone, and demonstrate how we are pushing the boundaries of innovation in support of the digital capabilities in Australia.

“As we roll out the next evolution of our network to extend its reach for the benefit of homes and businesses across the country, we are excited to demonstrate the potential for 5G mmWave. NBN will be among the first in the world to deploy 5G mmWave technology at this scale, and achievements like Samsung’s 10km milestone will pave the way for further developments in the ecosystem.

The Samsung announcement comes just weeks after NBN Co selected Nokia 5G mmWave FWA technology in a technology refresh programme designed to extend the existing fixed wireless footprint by up to 50%, enabling about 120,000 former satellite-only eligible premises access to fixed wireless services for the first time.

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