Samsung adds two modems to help enable wider 5G rollout

Verizon will be the first customer to buy a tool that supports 5G networks that are easier to enable, smaller in size and more efficient in how they use power.

MWC19 Los Angeles: Samsung's presence in the 5G revolution Samsung's 5G radio units are just one of its initiatives on the road to 5G.

Samsung unveiled two new modems on Thursday that it said would help boost the rollout of 5G by enabling an approximate 25% reduction in size, weight and power consumption of Samsung base stations.

The move comes as the expansion of 5G continues across the United States after debuting in the market earlier this year. 

Derek Johnston, marketing director of the Networks Division at Samsung America, wrote a blog post explaining that one of the key elements of the first official 5G network rollouts has been field programmable gate array chipsets, which are popular because of their design flexibility and programmability. 

But one of the downsides is that you need to install more than one in order to have enough processing power to back the 5G network. With more chipsets come higher costs related to increased power consumption and more physical space needed to warehouse equipment. 

SEE: Mini-glossary: 5G terms you should know (free PDF) (TechRepublic Premium)

"Samsung has tapped its leadership in semiconductor and network technology–and combined it with its expertise in 5G research and development–to introduce one of the industry's first SoC 5G New Radio modems: the S8600 and S9100," Johnston wrote.  

ASICs based System-on-a-Chip (SoC) product designs have become popular because they are more power efficient and have increased operating frequency capabilities, addressing the high-volume, mass production requirements that the industry is now demanding. 

"These new modems support two architectural options for operators. The S8600 powers Samsung's Digital Unit in separated radio-digital configurations for both 4G and 5G, while the S9100 powers Samsung's 5G integrated Access Unit," he added in his blog post about the new modems.

Johnston added that most companies are opting for more power-conscious circuits that are permanent and application-specific, as opposed to circuitry that needs to be programmed or reconfigured. The new Samsung tools will help support 5G networks that are easier to enable, smaller in size and more efficient in how they use power, he said. 

In late October, Samsung showed off the S9100 chipset at the Mobile World Congress LA 2019, giving analysts a first glance at it. The radio access units are small enough that installing them will be relatively easy, analysts said.

Ovum Research Practice Leader Daryl Schoolar explained the tools in greater detail after seeing them up close at the Mobile World Congress. In a blog post, Schoolar said the new base station "integrates the radio unit and distributed unit into a single form factor, making it the industry's first integrated radio for mmWave spectrum, compliant to the 3GPP NR standard."
 
"This saves money on front haul and makes for a simpler installation versus the previous two-box offering. Samsung Networks used its new 5G system on a chip (SoC) modem. This helps give the base station an approximate 25% reduction in size, weight, and energy consumption versus those without an embedded 5G chipset," he said.

Samsung is not done adding to its portfolio of 5G tools. At Mobile World Congress LA, the company said support for spectrum bands was coming for 2.5GHz, 3.5-4.1GHz, 26-28GHz and 39GHz. Officials also have plans for a variety of network architectures that provide a multitude of options for 5G network operators.

Schoolar added that each operator had different configurations for each network and that Samsung was trying to expand its share of the market by making more flexible tools designed for a variety of situations. 

"Operators want vendor partners that will not only deploy 5G but will also be with them throughout the full life cycle of 5G. The 28GHz radio enhancements supports this," Schoolar wrote. 

"This does not mean Samsung Networks has maximized its opportunity with those operators, nor are those the only mobile operators in the US. Growing its presence in the US of course means growing its portfolio."

According to Johnston, the units can be put on streetlights, poles and building walls, making it easier for network operators to start spreading the 5G rollout. 

Verizon will be the first company to buy the 5G NR Access Unit, which also comes with up to 10Gbps data throughput in a 4 transmit and 4 receive (4T4R) antenna configuration.  

Schoolar added that Samsung was also working with many of the other major 5G operators. 

"Samsung Networks has made no secret of the fact it sees the US as one of its most important infrastructure markets. It already has commercial contracts with AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon, providing LTE and 5G solutions to all three operators," he wrote. "This does not mean Samsung Networks has maximized its opportunity with those operators, nor are those the only mobile operators in the US. Growing its presence in the US of course means growing its portfolio."

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