Samsung, Qualcomm hit 8.08 Gbps 5G download record

Samsung and Qualcomm hit a new 5G download speed record in a lab trial that aggregated millimeter wave and C-band spectrum to reach 8.08 Gbps on a single user device.

According to Samsung, the test was conducted in the vendor’s Plano, Texas facility and used New Radio-Dual Connectivity (NR-DC) mode combining 800 MHz of mmWave in the 28 GHz band with 100 MHz of mid-band C-band spectrum.

Farook Hussan, senior director of Technology for Networks Business at Samsung, said based on their research, the more than 8 Gbps 5G downlink “is currently the highest speed achieved in a lab by commercially available network equipment, currently installed on live networks.”

“This validates the expectations associated with the speeds and capacity of 5G technology are achievable,” Hussan told Fierce via email.

RELATED: Samsung notches 5.23 Gbps 5G speed record

The trial used Samsung’s virtualized RAN and core, mmWave 5G Compact Macro and Massive MIMO radio alongside a smartphone form-factor test device powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X65 5G Modem-RF system.

Bringing together mmWave and C-band enables higher throughputs than possible with one band alone, he noted, with NR-DC as well as 256 QAM technology playing a role to boost speeds. 256 QAM has already been used in LTE for several years and now it’s translating to 5G results, providing a 30% downlink boost for the recent record.

As for NR-DC, Hussan explained that it enables simultaneous communications between two different base stations, aggregating data from both mmWave and mid-band connections to maximize throughput.

“The flow control function in Samsung’s Virtualized Central Unit (VCU) efficiently manages the data flow between the mmWave and C-band base stations in the downlink,” he added.

RELATED: Verizon deploys C-band gear from Ericsson, Samsung for its 5G network

Unlike EN-DC, which has been used to aggregate 5G and LTE spectrum in non-standalone 5G environments, NR-DC is designed only to be used in standalone 5G. So far T-Mobile is the only U.S. operator to deploy an SA 5G network.

In the U.S. operators have their hands on new mid-band spectrum at 3.7 GHz, with devices and RAN gear that can now support large swaths of contiguous mid-band spectrum for enhanced 5G performance.

Verizon is one carrier that’s already deployed vRAN gear from Samsung for both mmWave and C-band, while Ericsson nabbed a more than $8 billion 5G deal last year. Over the summer Verizon worked with Ericsson and MediaTek to hit speeds of 4.3 Gbps in a lab setting by aggregating 100 MHz of C-band and 600 MHz of mmWave spectrum.

The latest speed record follows an earlier trial in October with Verizon, Samsung and Qualcomm that saw the partners hit 5G uplink speeds of 711 Mbps. That trial leveraged EN-DC with 400 MHz of 28 GHz spectrum.

RELATED: Ericsson, Telstra, Qualcomm set 5G uplink speed record of 986 Mbps

So how are these kinds of lab trials and speed records important for real-world 5G deployments and use cases?

“Upload and download speeds are beginning to have real-world impacts on both consumer and business experiences, and the improvement of these speeds will open up new possibilities,” Hussan said. “Conducting tests that explore 5G speed-enhancing technologies are important for the evolution of the technology and the experiences.”

Specifically, he said upload speeds at the level of 711 Mbps are becoming more important in places like public venues or stadiums where thousands of fans gather and upload to social media or share photos and video simultaneously and in real-time. Sports stadiums are a particular focus for Verizon’s mmWave efforts. The carrier has a 10-year 5G technology pact with the NFL and already deployed mmWave at 25 NFL stadiums.

RELATED: Verizon’s mmWave 5G tackles competition at NFL stadiums – Opensignal

As for download speeds, Hussan said hitting 8 Gbps opens up new opportunities for applications like augmented and virtual reality.  

“For example, our work with the Department of Defense, where we have created a 5G test bed to bring AR to military training, which is ongoing,” he noted. “High speeds will also be important to downloading 4K and 8K video across many users simultaneously, which will translate to success stories across industries – such as public safety, manufacturing and transportation.”

In transportation, he pointed to how Samsung is now delivering downloaded content on a subway in Seoul. In September the vendor showcased a trial at the same Seoul Metro using 5G mmWave as backhaul to boost Wi-Fi service in a moving subway train, enhancing the Wi-Fi downlink average by around 25 times and hit peak speeds of 1.8 Gbps.

RELATED: Samsung 5G mmWave trial clocks 1.8 Gbps Wi-Fi speeds in Seoul subway

What are the key takeaways for network performance and operators?

“We believe these speed milestones will enable operators to improve their customers’ experiences and business processes by leveraging services including AR/VR, high-quality video streaming, analytics and IoT/automation, video-based security and much more,” Hussan said. “There are also new applications for Fixed Wireless Access that are achievable now by using the throughput and capacity of 5G.”