LTE may only be wiping its feet on the proverbial doormat, and yet Samsung has already announced a significant breakthrough in the development of 5G mobile communications. The company says this will pave the way for next-generation mobile networks offering transmission speeds in the tens of gigabits per second – hundreds of times faster than LTE.
Samsung Electronics has developed an adaptive array transceiver capable of transmitting data at a rate of 1.056 Gbit/s at a range of up to 2 km (1.2 miles) in the tricky millimeter waveband. The millimeter band, or extremely high frequency band, is not normally associated with long-distance communications due to signal attenuation in the atmosphere and in rainfall.
At 28 GHz, Samsung's technology is operating just outside of the band normally considered the millimeter band, which ranges from 30 to 300 GHz. At these frequencies, electromagnetic radiation has wavelength of between 1 and 10 mm, hence the name. The millimeter band has long been recognized as offering the potential bandwidth to revolutionize telecommunications, with the broader range of frequencies available that would allow such high bandwidths at the commercial scale. The same principle applies here.
Samsung says that its 64-antennae transceiver, which transmitted data at 1.056 Gbit/s, "can be a viable solution for overcoming the radio propagation loss at millimeter-wave bands," and would allow the transmission of 3D films and games, ultra HD video and, intriguingly, "remote medical services."
The company predicts that 5G technologies may not be very far away, citing the European Commission's investment to commercialize them by 2020. Unlike the term 4G, 5G denotes no particular specification, and is instead a generic term for next-gen telecommunications (or perhaps next next-gen, depending on where you are).