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Samsung completes KDDI 5G SA network slicing field trial, inks Nokia patent licence

Korean tech giant makes further strides in 5G in first demonstration of network slicing using RIC on a live 5G SA network with leading Japanese operator, and signs patent agreement with Finnish comms tech provider to combine 5G technology expertise

Samsung Electronics has announced the successful demonstration of service level agreements (SLA) assurance network slicing in a field trial conducted in Tokyo with local national operator KDDI, and signed a new cross-licence patent agreement with Nokia following the expiry of the previous agreement at the end of 2022.

The KDDI demo is said to have shown, for the first time in the industry, capabilities to generate multiple network slices using a radio access  network (RAN) intelligent controller (RIC) on a live commercial 5G standalone (SA) network.

The RIC, provided by Samsung in this field trial, is a software-based component of the Open RAN architecture designed to optimise the radio resources of the RAN to improve the overall network quality.

Network slicing enables multiple virtual networks to be created in a single physical network infrastructure, meaning, for instance, said Samsung, operators can create a low-latency slice for automated vehicles, an internet of things (IoT) slice for smart factories and a high-bandwidth slice for live video streaming – all in the same network. This means that a single network can support a broad mix of use cases simultaneously, accelerating the delivery of new services and meeting the tailored demands of various enterprises and consumers.

In February 2022, the operator turned on in Kawasaki, Kanagawa what it said was the first commercial 5G standalone deployment using open and virtualised radio access network (Open RAN, vRAN) technology, successfully completing the transmission of live 5G traffic.

KDDI and Samsung have been working together for more than a decade, and believe they have hit major 5G networks milestones that include: KDDI’s selection of Samsung as a 5G network services provider, end-to-end 5G network slicing demonstration in the lab, 5G network roll-out on 700MHz and the deployment of 5G vRAN on KDDI’s commercial network.

Moreover, through the field trial conducted in Q4 of 2022, KDDI and Samsung claimed to have proved their capabilities of SLA assurance to generate multiple network slices that meet SLA requirements, guaranteeing specific performance parameters – such as low latency and high throughput – for each application.

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Samsung said it also proved the technical feasibility of multiple user equipment-based network slices with quality assurance using the RIC, which performs advanced control of RAN as defined by the O-RAN Alliance.

“Network slicing will help us activate a wide range of services that require high performance and low latency, benefitting both consumers and businesses,” said Toshikazu Yokai, managing executive officer and general manager of the mobile network technical development division at KDDI. “Working with Samsung, we continue to deliver the most innovative technologies to enhance customer experiences.”

Junehee Lee, executive vice-president and head of global sales and marketing for networks business at Samsung Electronics, said: “Network slicing will open up countless opportunities by allowing KDDI to offer tailor-made, high-performance connectivity, along with new capabilities and services, to its customers.

“This demonstration is another meaningful step forward in our efforts to advance technological innovation and enrich network services. We’re excited to have accomplished this together with KDDI and look forward to continued collaboration.”

Collaboration is also the name of the game with Nokia, and in its new agreement – covering the Finnish tech provider’s fundamental inventions in 5G and other technologies – Samsung will make licence payments for a multi-year period.

The terms of the agreement remain confidential between the parties, but the firms confirmed it is consistent with the assumptions that Nokia has disclosed in the long-term Nokia Technologies outlook commentary in its Financial report for Q3 and January-September 2022 issued on 20 October 2022.

“Samsung is a leader in the smartphone industry, and we are delighted to have reached an amicable agreement with them,” said Jenni Lukander, president of Nokia Technologies. “The agreement gives both companies the freedom to innovate, and reflects the strength of Nokia’s patent portfolio, decades-long investments in R&D and contributions to cellular standards and other technologies.”

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