Samsung says 6G will need all the mmWave spectrum it can get

Samsung wants tens of Gigahertz of contiguous millimetre wave spectrum so we can all enjoy the myriad benefits of 6G holograms.

Nick Wood

May 10, 2022

3 Min Read
6G over a digital city

Samsung wants tens of Gigahertz of contiguous millimetre wave spectrum so we can all enjoy the myriad benefits of 6G holograms.

In a white paper published over the weekend, the Korean electronics giant proposed that industry and policy makers consider allocating all available frequency bands – from sub-1 GHz right the way up to the 24-300 GHz range – to 6G technology. Belgium is going to be livid.

It is a sacrifice demanded of us by the use-case gods which, in addition to holograms, have also recently become very excited about the potential of immersive extended reality (XR). Being able to interact with people and objects in real time, as if they were in the same room (although if it uses mmWave it’ll probably only work outside) is the new holy grail of mobile telecoms.

Joking aside, the bittersweet benefit to all this is that a larger proportion of human – and business – activity would fall below the threshold that necessitates physical travel, which might help to lower carbon emissions and mitigate some of the effects that pandemics have on ‘normal’ life.

“6G would require spectrum with ultra-wideband contiguous bandwidth ranging from hundreds of MHz to tens of GHz to enable new services such as high-fidelity mobile holograms and truly immersive extended reality (XR) that are characterised by ultra-high speed communications and large amount of data,” said Samsung on Sunday.

Samsung said that once it exists, 6G will be able to support a data rate of up to 1 Terabit per second (Tbps), a 50-fold improvement on 5G.

There are of course some serious shortcomings with mmWave – such as low signal propagation and difficulty penetrating solid surfaces – which only get worse when higher and higher frequencies are used. These can be overcome by rolling out more sites, the trade-off being it’s more expensive, consumes more power, and ruins the view.

However, Samsung is working on some candidate technologies that improve the propagation characteristics of sub-THz frequencies. These include new beam-steering and duplexing devices that together are able to reflect the signal in a desired direction and improve propagation. It is also using AI-based technology to improve power consumption and compensate for signal distortion. Samsung has a way to go before hitting that 1-Tbps milestone though. So far it has achieved connection speeds of 12 Gbps indoors over a distance of 30 metres, and 2.3 Gbps at 120 metres outdoors.

It’s a start though, and that’s why Samsung wants the wider world to start thinking seriously about 6G spectrum.

“Research on forward-looking regulations and technologies on spectrum utilisation is essential to provide efficient and flexible support of 6G and other services with the limited spectrum,” it said.

When it comes to mmWave, some are further ahead than others. While the US already has commercial mmWave 5G networks up and running, in the UK, regulator Ofcom has only just started consulting industry on opening up the 26 GHz and 40 GHz bands for 5G. Aforementioned Belgium has only recently reached consensus on radiation limits for mid-band 5G spectrum, and some parts of the country still have concerns regarding the possible health effects of mmWave.

Then there are other vested interests that will have an eye on mmWave, such as the Wi-Fi industry and the defence sector, for instance, which all have lobbyists that want to influence policy in their favour. These things usually come to a head at the ITU’s World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC). The next one of these is due to take place in late 2023 and, given that 6G is being slated for launch by 2030, you can see why Samsung wants to get in early.


Get the latest news straight to your inbox. Register for the newsletter here.

About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

Get the latest news straight to your inbox.
Register for the newsletter here.

You May Also Like