SK Telecom and Samsung trial 4G-5G handover in Seoul

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SK Telecom and Samsung Electronics have successfully completed what they claim is the world’s first 4G LTE and 5G end-to-end network interworking trial in a real outdoor environment in Seoul.

To enable interworking between 4G and 5G, the companies used the current 4G LTE commercial network in the 2.6-GHz band and newly built 5G networks using frequencies of 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz, as well as a virtualized core and a test device that supports both 4G and 5G technologies.

In the Eulji-ro area of South Korea where SK Telecom’s headquarters is located, 360-degree virtual reality video was streamed live between a user in a traveling car and another user in the headquarters building. The primary RF challenge for the trial was with the dense urban outdoor environment consisting of closely situated office buildings and busy traffic in Eulji-ro.

The trial showed that users can experience seamless uninterrupted streaming service when transitioning from 4G to 5G networks and vice versa.

Furthermore, the test also implies a potential 5G deployment scenario in which end users still will be able to enjoy seamless mobile service during the initial phases of 5G network deployment where full coverage areas have not yet been fully built out.

“Users will be able to experience seamless communications service regardless of their location with 5G, in which the nationwide deployment of 4G will work together with base stations that support the 3.5-GHz band for wide coverage, as well as the 28-GHz band for ultra-high speed transmission,” said Park Jin-hyo, senior vice president and head of SK Telecom’s Network Technology R&D Center.

“Interworking between 4G and 5G is a prerequisite for the early stage of 5G commercialization. Likewise, the interworking between 3G and 4G was the key driver to foster the 4G eco-system and its commercialization,” said Dongsoo Park, executive vice president and head of the global sales and marketing team in Samsung’s Networks Business unit. “The success of the test has proved that end users’ demand for a seamless and better experience can be met, on 4G-5G-intertwined next generation network.”

As part of the trial, SK Telecom and Samsung established a virtual network consisting of virtual LTE and 5G cores with SDN technology. Another critical element of the trial was to design and test network slicing technology, which was evaluated to ensure consistent quality across diverse services in a multi-radio access technology setting.

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