Start Your Engines: How Spectrum Fuels 5G (and how F1 is exploring its uses)

Community Manager
Community Manager



For those 1.6 billion fans around the globe, the 2021 Formula One season will kick off in just a few days on March 28, with the season opener Bahrain Grand Prix. There is a lot of global excitement around F1, but you may not know that the international auto racing series has always been at the cutting edge of technological development, and now 5G, by testing new uses for millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum.


Spectrum is crucial for any wireless network. It does the incredible job of invisibly carrying data across airwaves to connect us to the world. Here’s a ‘crash’ course on what spectrum is and an example of how it’s being used to shape 5G and the networks of the future.


What’s in this story:


  • F1 & mmWave use case: Samsung and F1 racing are testing mmWave spectrum capabilities to improve performance, experience, and safety – which can help us understand how to leverage this spectrum even better in our network
  • 5G & spectrum: how our 5G network is evolving with the use of spectrum


mmWave, 5G and the transformation of car racing


As 5G evolves in waves of capabilities, we continue to uncover new uses. Samsung has been testing mmWave and 5G capabilities alongside F1 with the goals of applying the spectrum’s amazing capabilities to improve performance, enhance viewer experience and increase safety. Here’s how:

  • Enhancing view experience: From the thrilling trackside to the drivers’ in-car perspective, with 5G, fans can select from multiple views of the race simultaneously and in high definition. What’s more, handsets could eventually leverage Augmented Reality (AR) and image recognition to provide up-to-date driver and vehicle statistics, simply by focusing the phone’s camera at a given car. 5G’s capacity and mmWave’s throughput allow users to access footage from a huge number of cameras set up around the track – and even instant race replay.
  • Improving performance: Using 28GHz spectrum and a Samsung Galaxy S10 located inside a race car moving at speeds of up to 213km/h, Samsung conducted handover testing. With 5G base stations installed around the track, the team tested data throughput and radio transmission in a high-speed environment successfully, showing stability and reliability.
  • Increasing safety: Driving in F1 is physically demanding. Sensors in the drivers’ suits can check for strain, heart and lung function, and more. With a 5G network in place and the implementation of advanced wearable devices, health-related data can be collected in real-time during the race. If an accident were to happen, the embedded sensors and the reliable 5G connectivity would provide medical staff a more immediate understanding of what happened and what treatment is needed.

The role of spectrum in 5G


Spectrum refers to the radio frequencies used in mobile communications.


5G networks combine low- and mid-band spectrum, already in use in today’s cellular networks, but also high-band spectrum, which is currently used in technology such as hand-held airport scanners.


5G Safety Graphic.jpg


A note on safety


Mobile phones and cell towers emit non-ionizing electromagnetic energy – like many household appliances – meaning they don’t have the capacity to break down chemical bonds in human cells and tissues. As you can see from this diagram, many everyday items such as radios, baby monitors, and remote controls give off some level of non-ionizing energy.


Safety Code 6 is Health Canada’s guideline around safe exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy. Health Canada scientists review and monitor studies on exposure on a regular basis to verify or update their recommendations. The recommended limits give generous safety margins for added protection for all Canadians, including those working near RF sources. You can learn more on the Government of Canada’s website here.


For you F1 fans, we highly recommend watching Drive to Survive on Netflix for the behind-the-scenes look at the drivers and races of the Formula One World Championship.