One Month Into 2020, What’s New With 5G?

January 21, 2020 by Gary Elinoff

Just a few weeks into the new year, many companies are progressing 5G to make 2020 the "year of 5G."

Just a few weeks into the new year, many companies are progressing 5G technology to make 2020 the "year of 5G," as several exhibitors at CES 2020 suggested. Some of these developments are at the chip-level, some are occurring at a network-level, and others are prepping major infrastructures for smart technologies run on 5G. 

Here are a few highlights of 5G strides so far. 


SK Telecom Accomplishes Standalone (SA) 5G Data Session 

Just two weeks into January, SK Telecom placed its first standalone 5G data call from Busan, Korea, using the company's commercial 5G network deployed in that region.

SK Telecom asserts that this is the world’s first standalone (SA) data session on a multi-vendor commercial 5G network. According to the company, they completed the call using present non-standalone (NSA) 5G base stations through standalone new radio (NR) software.


The world’s first SA 5G data session

The world’s first SA 5G data session. Image used courtesy of SK Telecom

The company then completed multi-vendor interoperability with Ericsson and Samsung network equipment.


Network Slicing and Mobile Edge Computing

SK Telecom has applied key 5G technologies to make this effort possible.

Network slicing provides support for 5G services by partitioning a single physical network into multiple virtual mobile networks. 

Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) minimizes latency by provisioning a faster pathway for data transmission. It accomplishes this goal by installing a small-scale data center at the point of the router or 5G base station.

VP and head of 5GX Labs at SK Telecom, Park Jong-kwan, expressed hope in his company's feat: “With the successful standalone 5G data call on our multi-vendor commercial 5G network, we are now standing on the threshold of launching standalone 5G service, a key enabler of revolutionary changes and innovations in all industries," he remarked. 

“SK Telecom will offer the best 5G networks and services to realize a whole new level of customer experience in the 5G era.”


MediaTek’s Dimensity 800 5G Chipsets Bring Flagship Features to Mid-range Phones

MediaTek has also jumped in on the 5G bandwagon with 5G SoCs that feature integrated 5G modems. This "single-chip solution" is said to deliver platform power savings over two-chip arrangements. Supporting two carrier aggregation (2CC CA), the 7mm devices offer 30% wider high-speed layer coverage and higher average throughput performance.


Dimensity 800 5G SoC

MediaTek’s Dimensity 800 5G chipset. Image used courtesy of MediaTek

The Dimensity 800 5G SoC supports both stand-alone and non-standalone sub-6GHz networks. It also offers multi-mode support for every cellular connectivity generation from 2G to 5G and delivers connectivity across networks.


Highlights of Dimensity 800 5G 

Processing cores. The 7mm devices include four Arm Cortex-A76 cores along with four Arm Cortex-A55 cores, all operating to 2GHz. MediaTek claims that this is a first for the mainstream segment. 

MediaTek’s APU 3.0. This AI Processing Unit includes four cores consisting of three different core types. The unit provides up to 2.4 TOPs performance, delivering precise AI-camera performance.  

Imaging capabilities: Smartphone OEMs will appreciate the image signal processor (ISP) ability to support four concurrent cameras for design flexibility. The 800 series supports cameras sensors of 64MP or, alternatively, multi-camera designs featuring 32MP and 16MP cameras. 

AI-based camera enhancement. The chip is also said to feature auto exposure, autofocus, noise reduction, and specialized facial detection hardware. MediaTek also claims to offer what they describe as the first available multi-frame 4K video HDR capability ("video HDR").

The 800 5G chipset appears to be a slightly trimmed down version of the already-released Dimensity 1000, which we have discussed in the past as a 5G SoC for smartphones. Both choices are designed for the sub-6 GHz 5G segment.

According to TL Lee, head of MediaTek’s wireless business unit, “MediaTek already launched its flagship 5G smartphone solution, the Dimensity 1000, and with the 800 series 5G chipset family, we are bringing 5G to the mid-tier and mass market.”

He goes on to state that “the Dimensity 800 series will power the new premium segment for 5G, bringing consumers flagship smartphone features and performance at mid-range price points.” 


Samsung Medical Center and KT Telecom Develop 5G Smart Hospital 

KT Telecommunications, Korea’s largest telecommunications company, is helping Samsung Medical Center enter the 5G era. The first steps on the long journey include digital diagnostic pathology, faster access to vital information, AI-enhanced patient care, autonomous robots that remove medical waste, and autonomous robots in operating rooms. 

A 5G network with ultra-high speed and ultra-low latency will immediately transfer information between pathologists and surgeons, eliminating delays that could otherwise prove detrimental, or in extreme cases, even deadly to patients. The network will also provide campus-wide access to CT, MRI, and proton therapy data. 

Autonomous robots, controlled using 5G networks, will be available to remove dangerous medical waste. This may decrease the risk of disease transmission, which is always a danger when humans perform this hazardous task. 

Remote education. Students will no longer have to compete with hospital personnel for tight OR space. Surgeons will be able to wear sync cams, and, thanks to the 5G network, groups of remote medical trainees will still be able to view procedures with the surgeon's visual perspective.


Samsung Medical Center

Remote viewing of surgical theater. Image used courtesy of KT Corporation 


Smart caregivers will provide AI services on KT's GiGAGenie engine. Patients will be able to control aspects of their hospital room using voice command. As a result, medical staff will be able to devote more time to other patient emergencies.



5G has been slow-rolling for several years now. From a design perspective, what developments indicate that it may soon be a reality? What developments indicate that 5G still has a way to go? Share your thoughts in the comments below.