Samsung's 2020 Successes Point to a Bright 5G Future in North America
2020 will go down as one of the most difficult times in our history, but it also made clear the importance of connectivity in our daily lives.
Vice President of Networks Strategy, BD, & Maketing, Samsung Electronics America
2020 will go down as one of the most difficult times in our history, but it also made clear the importance of connectivity in our daily lives. The communications industry worked hard to advance 5G deployments and service adoption throughout the year, as shown by the expansion of commercial 5G networks from 61 in 34 countries at the start of the year to 125 in 52 countries by November. 1 2 Operators have seen fast subscriber uptake of 5G, spurred by higher-speed services and new applications available on more than 300 devices.3 2020 also exposed the need for higher speeds and ubiquitous connectivity due to work from home mandates, the digital transformation that many enterprises and businesses are pursuing, and the need to bridge the digital divide. 5G-powered networks, including Fixed Wireless Access solutions, are proving beneficial in helping address these needs. Network operators appear confident in 5G's abilities, as they are expediting deployments, signaling that the industry is commercializing 5G faster than prior technologies.
Samsung’s North America team is excited to be part of significant advancements in 2020, and we believe that they are paving the way for even more 5G momentum in 2021.
Successes Flourished in 2020 Despite the Challenges
In 2020, U.S. operators continued to expand the coverage of their 5G networks through the use of advanced technologies like Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS). Using DSS, operators were able to utilize their LTE spectrum bands to deploy 5G networks, minimizing the impact on existing services while facilitating a smooth shift to 5G. In addition, major U.S. operators achieved 5G coverage that reached more than 230 million Americans, and they’ve augmented their coverage layer with a growing high-throughput footprint in mid-band and mmWave.
Expanding 5G in the U.S. was extremely important in 2020 because broadband networks became front and center due to the unforeseen requirements to work, learn, and shop remotely. Stay at home orders, the endless video calls, collaboration sessions, and home-based education for students of all ages put networks to the test, and the wireless industry stepped up to meet the capacity needs. In some cases, the flexibility offered by virtualized networks enabled additional capacity to be applied quickly. Whether deployed in fixed wireless or hotspot applications, 5G successfully demonstrated its ability to deliver the throughput needed from wireless broadband access.
Samsung achieved several important 5G milestones in 2020. Samsung partnered with network operators to introduce commercial 5G service in Canada and the U.S.4 5 6 Also, the company supported 5G network growth with solutions that allowed operators in the region to launch new services that provide customers with the benefits of 5G's speed and bandwidth.7 Real-time applications foster OPEX reducing tools, like the AI-powered drone system that validates site antenna configuration and RF interference detection and management system, to ease the deployments of wireless RANs.8 Samsung provides AI/ML powered tools to automate the management of wireless RANs, ranging from the open-loop automation solutions such as AI machine learning based anomaly detection to the close-loop automation solutions such as load balancing orchestration.
In 2020, Samsung introduced several new technologies to help network operators efficiently deploy and operate their networks, including a fully virtualized RAN and high-performance indoor solutions. With RAN virtualization, operators can create a flexible and cost-efficient RAN that efficiently scales and pools network resources and optimizes service performance.9 To ensure that indoor locations can receive the same 5G experiences, Samsung launched the Samsung Link portfolio featuring the Link Cell mmWave unit, Link HubPro for active DAS, and Link Hub for passive DAS.10 These solutions deliver cost-effective 5G services for operators across their spectrum assets and various enterprise building types, whether in arenas, office buildings, or campuses.
On the device front, Samsung has offered smartphones with 5G connectivity since 2019 and we have worked to make 5G a standard across our portfolio at all price points – from our mid-tier Galaxy A series to our revolutionary Galaxy Z series. The goal of our expansive device portfolio is to make 5G accessible to everyone.
These advancements in 2020 allowed MNOs to play a vital role in keeping people connected to their work, family, and friends.
Optimism for 5G in 2021
5G networks are primed and ready for 2021 advancements. Samsung envisions continued 5G growth and customer traction from MNOs, as they expand their networks and take advantage of newly acquired spectrum to launch advanced services.
Fully Utilizing Newly Available Spectrum. In addition to the geographic expanse and regulatory policies, one of the most critical factors affecting a region's network deployment speed is access to 5G-ready spectrum. In 2021, spectrum availability will be pivotal to delivering on the 5G promise – particularly in the U.S., where operators are investing USD 80.9 billion for coveted mid-band spectrum licenses between 3.7 and 3.98GHz. Known as C-Band, this spectrum provides an outstanding balance of speed and signal propagation that complements current low-band and mmWave 5G networks. Samsung's new C-band radio couples a 64T64R Massive MIMO architecture with advanced 3-D beamforming technology to triple operators' network capacity with ultra-spectral efficiency.
From RAN products to deployment and operational services, Samsung is ready to help operators deploy the networks across low, mid, and high-band spectrum to realize the full potential of 5G.
Increasing Revenue Opportunities for the Enterprise market
While there are already compelling 5G applications for consumers, Samsung expects 5G to have an even more significant impact on the enterprise. Various enterprise verticals ranging from manufacturing to healthcare to logistics are actively exploring the benefits of 5G in both public and private networks. Many enterprise applications require the ultra-low latency, reliability, and capacity only offered by 5G. These use cases include fault detection in manufacturing plants, real-time security analysis and analytics, and automated guided vehicles in distribution centers.
Moreover, as an active member of CBRS (OnGo) Alliance, Samsung envisions that CBRS will provide ample new opportunities to enterprises and service providers. CBRS offers an efficient way to build private networks for enterprises, opening up new business opportunities using mid-band frequency. It can also provide high-quality wireless services. Samsung’s CBRS solutions are currently in use across the U.S., and are commercially available to all service providers and enterprises. By utilizing CBRS’s capability, enterprises and service providers will be able to accelerate their digital transformation and increase productivity with 5G powered factories and offices.
In addition, to provide these capabilities, Samsung Networks provides network operators with a 5G powered engine to deliver SLA-backed services to business customers. These new services can do more than guarantee latency and throughput; they also establish secure and private networks for those enterprise customers, creating new business opportunities for network operators.
As 5G continues to mature, and with more IoT sensors and endpoints coming to market to connect with innovative edge compute and cloud technologies, Samsung expects to see new enterprise applications come to light that bring better and faster operations to businesses.
Excitement Abounds at Samsung
Samsung is proud of the industry’s efforts over the past year. Businesses forged ahead with digital transformation efforts using 5G, edge computing, and cloud connectivity to improve operations and bring new capabilities to their customers. Samsung is excited about continued 5G momentum in 2021 and looks forward to ongoing innovation with our partners that will drive business benefits to all of society.