Samsung to double midband 5G radio bandwidth to 400 MHz

Samsung plans to deliver its next generation of 5G mid-band radios early next year that support double the amount of bandwidth of its current radio gear.

The South Korean electronics giant says it’s developed new 5G wideband radio technology that extends instantaneous bandwidth (known as IBW) support to 400-megahertz. That compares to 200 MHz supported by current Samsung hardware.

According to Samsung, since the radios can handle wider bandwidth – including non-contiguous frequencies within 400 MHz-wide range – operators can minimize the amount of radio hardware they need for new mid-band 5G deployments.

The vendor also pointed to use in active RAN sharing scenarios. While not very common in the U.S., some global operators, like Vodafone, Telefónica and DT for example, have inked network sharing agreements in various forms over the last year.

Operators have pointed to network sharing as a way to help reduce costs of rollouts as well as extend coverage in rural or underserved areas. Some cases involve construction of new sites with each contributing their own equipment, while others don’t require separate radio technologies.

Commercialization of Samsung’s next-gen radios with extended bandwidth support, including Massive MIMO radios, is planned for early 2022.   

In the U.S. operators like Verizon and AT&T plan to get started deploying newly won C-band spectrum once the first tranche is cleared by satellite operations later this year.

AT&T has said it will begin rolling out the first 40 MHz of its C-band spectrum by the end of 2021 but expects most of its $6 billion to $8 billion deployment spend to happen in 2022-2024. Nokia last month secured a 5-year deal with AT&T to supply C-band gear.

Samsung is one of Verizon’s 5G suppliers, having won a large network deal in September. Verizon initially plans to use its existing macro network grid in and around major markets for C-band deployments this year, while filling in some rural and semi-rural areas medium-term. It expects to spend an additional $10 billion over three years to deploy C-band.  

Network densification and associated costs for broad coverage using C-band is something that’s gained attention from industry analysts, observers, and operators as carrier look to deploy the mid-band frequencies for 5G.  

In a statement, Dong Geun Lee, Samsung VP and head of Hardware R&D for the Network Business, emphasized efficiency in deployments for carriers from the vendor’s forthcoming tech.

We are proud to develop new solutions that can help operators drive deployment efficiency by minimizing hardware changes and reducing installation costs—even as they expand their spectrum range,” stated Dong Geun Lee.

Samsung has been making other improvements to its radio portfolio, including enhanced beamforming accuracy for Massive MIMO. In late February the vendor said the new tech using advanced signal processing and AI – dubbed “Mobility Enhancer” – is expected to boost network throughput by up to 30% for 4G and 5G environments.