Arqiva, Samsung Initiate UK’s First 5G Fixed Wireless Access Trial

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UK’s communications infrastructure company Arqiva and Samsung Electronics have announced that the first field trial of 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) technology in the UK and Europe is now live in central London.

Powered by Samsung’s 5G network solution and customer premises equipment (CPE), and using Arqiva’s 28GHz millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum, the 5G FWA system consists of three main components:

A Radio Access Unit located on the rooftop of Arqiva’s Fitzrovia office wirelessly links to an easily installable CPE – or router – located by a window inside Arqiva’s nearby headquarters. Samsung’s system – which implements intelligent beam-forming technology and high-frequency mmWave spectrum – then provides high bandwidth connectivity.

In commercial implementations, the compact access unit can be mounted on lampposts or similar street furniture to provide reliable gigabit-per-second service to neighbourhoods and businesses alike.

The final component is Samsung’s virtualized core – responsible for managing user connections and data routing from Arqiva’s network to the internet – which is running on Arqiva’s data centre servers.

The primary aim of the trial is to demonstrate the stability of the FWA service, and its potential as a fast-to-market and cost-effective alternative to fibre for connectivity to homes and businesses. Despite a link distance of several hundred meters, the system has established a stable two-way mmWave link with downlink speeds of around 1GB per second at the CPE. Allowing for simultaneous streaming of more than 25 UHD 4K TV channels as an illustration, this more than meets the needs of today’s typical household with considerable room for future growth.

As the trial progresses, both companies look forward to further maximising the performance capability of the system, improving the value of future network infrastructure and spectrum investments.

Paul Kyungwhoon Cheun, Executive Vice President and Head of the Next Generation Communications Business Team at Samsung, said, “One of the most exciting prospects that 5G is expected to bring to the table is the exploration of powerful new use cases outside of traditional smart device mobile connectivity. Our trial efforts with Arqiva give us the chance to demonstrate this first hand, and we view this demonstration as a door-opener for new and compelling connected service opportunities in the UK, Europe and worldwide.”

Simon Beresford-Wylie, CEO of Arqiva, explained, “This trial is the first of its kind in Europe, let alone the UK – and we are hugely excited about the high data rates, low latency and growth potential we’re going to be able to demonstrate. Though only a proof of concept at this stage, we are confident that this trial with Samsung will showcase not only 5G FWA’s potential for delivering ultrafast broadband but also the value of the 28GHz band in helping achieve this.

“We’ve seen a great level of response so far from our entire customer base, including leading mobile operators, fixed broadband providers, broadcasters and media companies. This trial will be particularly interesting for this audience as it looks to a future of ubiquitous UHD, and the file sizes that go with it.”

The showcase consists of a series of six stations. These include an overview of FWA technology and how it works, examples of 5G use cases, demonstrations of 4K UHD and Virtual Reality (VR) content streaming, and a look at possible applications of 5G in the future.

The trial will run for a four-month period, during which time anticipated visitors include representatives from the UK Government, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), Fixed Network Operators, media companies, analysts and more. There are also plans to extend the trial’s coverage to additional nearby buildings over its duration.