Samsung on Monday unveiled its first 5G tablet prototype in partnership with Verizon and Korean telecom giant KT, having used it to demonstrate the capabilities of its experimental networking equipment as part of a test that saw it conduct a live video call connecting Seoul and Minneapolis. The 5G conference attempt was entirely successful, though Samsung has yet to share any photographs of the setup that it claims proves its technologies are already viable for commercial use cases. The three partners called the experiment “a huge milestone” that’s meant to illustrate the extent of their efforts to spearhead 5G research and development, adding that they’re aiming to continue collaborating going forward. Samsung, Verizon, and KT all contributed to the first 5G standard — Release 15 — the 3GPP completed late last year in Lisbon, Portugal.
The 5G tablet prototype used by Samsung for the test is described as supporting multi-gigabit download speeds over 5G networks, in addition to being compatible with existing 4G LTE technologies. The ability to seamlessly switch between the two is a crucial part of the device and demonstrates how all smartphones and tablets set to be released “between Gs” will have to operate in order to allow for a consistent user experience, according to Samsung. The exact specifications of the slate haven’t been disclosed by the company and it’s presently unclear whether its decision to deliver a prototype in the form of a tablet indicates its first commercial 5G device will also belong to the same product category. Sprint recently said its 5G deployment set to start in early 2019 will be accompanied by multiple 5G-ready smartphones from a “leading Korean manufacturer,” heavily implying Samsung’s Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10 Plus will be capable of communicating with the fifth generation of mobile networks.
Besides the experimental tablet, the recently concluded test involved 28GHz home routers, as well as a virtualized core network and one such radio access network. Verizon recently chose Samsung as the equipment supplier for its upcoming 5G fixed wireless access service planned to be rolled out to select U.S. cities in the second half of the year. Large-scale 5G deployment is expected to start by early 2019 in some parts of the world, whereas the four national carriers in the U.S. should offer country-wide 5G coverage by 2020, according to recent estimates.