On Monday, Samsung made a 5G announcement promising download of 3D movies in seconds. Samsung did the most masterful job of spinning a test for the maximum public relations impact that I have seen in a long time. Samsung served up such a sumptuous treat to the media who seem fascinated by technology. Obviously many media people are not engineers and as such may not have the background to know the right questions to ask.
The announcement first caught my eye when it was reported by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency. Subsequently Samsung stated that its new 5G technology will provide transmission rates of several hundred times faster than 4G.
Here is why Samsung’s announcement is a hyperbole.
- Its experiment achieved a data rate of 1.056 Gbps. This is not several hundred times of today’s fastest 4G LTE networks. According to a study, even AT&T (T) which does not have the fastest network in the world achieved 57.7 Mbps of maximum download speeds in real life. Samsung’s test achieved only about 18 times AT&T’s max average speed.
- Transmissions in the millimeter wave band do not pass through building walls.
- Transmissions in the millimeter wave band are attenuated even by trees.
- Transmissions In the millimeter wave band are easily absorbed by rain drops, humidity has significant impact.
- Samsung claims to have used a 64 element antenna. There are no more details about this antenna. Considering the claims Samsung is making, it appears to me that transitioning such an antenna from a mere outdoor experiment to the point of miniaturization so that it can be used in an actual phone may be not be easily achievable.
- Transmissions in the millimeter band are typically used in line-of-sight applications because they do not bend or reflect well.