08 May Samsung: The New 5G Kid On The North American Infrastructure Block

Samsung Logo

Today, Samsung is one of the most recognized brands in the world. Founded in 1938 initially as a trading entity, the company has been quietly building momentum in the wireless wide area networking (WWAN) infrastructure space outside of its traditional markets of South Korea and Asia. Recent standalone and partnership announcements at Mobile World Congress Barcelona earlier this year point to the company’s growing success in this area. Today I would like to provide my insight on Samsung’s latest 5G product release.

An end-to-end fixed 5G portfolio

Last week, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted regulatory approval of Samsung’s latest 5G product, an indoor 5G home router. This device complements the company’s 5G outdoor router previously certified and announced at Mobile World Congress. Depending on the layout and construction of a building or home, Samsung claims that its indoor and outdoor routers could improve broadband services up to 18 times over what is currently available today.

Schematic of Samsung’s Fixed 5G.

Together, these two products position Samsung favorably to provide an end-to-end solution for fixed 5G deployments—this is significant since both Verizon Wireless and AT&T have plans to launch fixed 5G services later this year. It is of note that these routers are the first millimeter-wave devices to garner FCC approval, and are expected to be an integral part of Verizon Wireless’s first commercial fixed 5G deployment in Sacramento, CA in the second half of this year. I’ve written before about fixed 5G—if you’re interested you can read that article here.

What are the real advantages?

What applications will take advantage of this super-fast 5G service (aside from the obvious—movie streaming)? From a consumer perspective, I expect online gaming (particularly the rapidly growing eSports industry) will leverage 5G’s dramatically improved throughput and low latency for quicker response times. I also expect augmented and virtual reality (AR/ VR) will really take off; in gaming, but also other unique use cases such as immersive sporting events. Lots of lower cost headsets are hitting the market, and I recently took the plunge with Oculus Go. Bring on the Oasis from Ready Player One!

From a commercial standpoint, immersive distance learning, smart warehousing, and retail will likely be standouts. I recently had a conversation on this topic with Nicki Parmer, Verizon’s Chief Network Officer. She reported that the carrier has moved out of the 5G test phase and is laser-focused in rolling out its 5G network—beginning with fixed deployments today and moving to mobility when end devices likely become available in mid-2019.

Wrapping Up

I believe that Samsung has a distinct advantage as it grows its WWAN infrastructure presence in North America and Europe, given the depth and breadth of its portfolio. With its experience spanning smartphones to tablets to connected/autonomous vehicle technology, Samsung can assist carriers by providing visibility to the 5G uses cases that will likely drive the most operator revenue and the greatest value for wireless subscribers. That’s powerful beyond the “speeds and feeds” of next-generation 5G network deployments. After all, these “pipes” would still be dumb without compelling service offerings.