Samsung boasts its 5G mobile network is fast for cars, too

Tests show the company's next-gen network technology to be seven times faster than in 2013 -- and works with moving vehicles. There's still no industrywide 5G standard, though.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
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Stephen Shankland
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Samsung's test of its 5G networking technology enabled a download speed of 1.2Gbps for a vehicle moving at more than 60mph.
Samsung's test of its 5G networking technology enabled a download speed of 1.2Gbps for a vehicle moving at 60mph. Samsung

Samsung's next-generation mobile networks can transfer data at 7.5 gigabits per second for a stationary device and 1.2Gbps for a vehicle moving at about 60mph, the company said Wednesday.

The milestones for the 5G (fifth-generation) network are important validations of the company's approach to improving mobile networks. Those speeds are vastly higher than today's 4G technology, called LTE (Long-Term Evolution), which is widely available in the US but only just arriving in Europe and other relatively wealthy countries.

LTE has a maximum download speed of about 100Mbps, and the coming LTE-Advanced could in principle reach 30 times that: 3Gbps. In practice, LTE download speeds are slower, ranging from 24.5Mbps in Australia to 6.5Mbps in the US, according to OpenSignal measurements published earlier this year. Samsung's 5G test last year hit 1Gbps.

Fast network speeds are important as people download big apps, watch video on phones with ever-larger screens, use mobile networks in place of traditional broadband based on phone or cable TV lines, and expand mobile networking to connect new devices such as cars.

But download speed isn't the sole measure of mobile networking. Other factors that influence people's experience include communication lags called latency, network coverage everywhere a person wants to go, connection reliability, and, of course, expense. Installing the latest network gear is a massive expense that carriers pass on to their customers, one way or another.

Network equipment makers, ever eager to sell next-gen equipment, are hoping carriers will pay for those upgrades, though -- perhaps in 2020.

Ericsson has tested 5G networking at 5Gbps. Huawei is investing $600 million in its 5G research, too. South Korea's government is pushing for 5G networks, and the European Commission set aside $886 million for 5G communications work. And Intel, whose WiMax technology lost out to LTE for 4G networking, is funding 5G research, too.

4G is a standard, but it's not clear yet what form 5G will take. Samsung is pushing an approach called Hybrid Adaptive Array Technology that uses 28GHz radio-frequency signals. That's a much higher frequency used by today's 3G and 4G networks, something that enables higher data rates but imposes limits on transmission range. Samsung's approach overcomes those range limits, though, it said in a statement.