Vodafone UK recently announced it selected Samsung as a supplier for its 5G infrastructure, as it looks to extend its coverage, BBC News and Yahoo report. The move is a “breakthrough” for Samsung, according to an industry analyst, since Ericsson and Nokia are expected to dominate the market as more countries ban Huawei products. Vodafone said it wants to broaden its range of suppliers.
The Samsung kit will initially be installed in 2,500 rural sites in the south-west of England and a majority of Wales. Samsung is one of a handful of companies that Vodafone contracted to build, “the first commercial deployment of Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) in Europe.” The RAN covers the equipment that provides the final link between a user’s phone and the phone network. It includes equipment like mobile phone antennas on towers and buildings. Open RAN allows network parts that different supplies make to be designed to work in the same way so they can meet a common set of standards.
Since equipment from different suppliers is interoperable, the network can be constructed with components from various companies, eliminating the need for a single supplier. Using Open RAN will also let Vodafone release new features at the same time across multiple sites, add more capacity faster and resolve outages “instantly”, according to company Chief Technology Officer Johan Wibergh.
“This feels like a key moment in the UK’s 5G story,” BBC News Technology Correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones wrote.
Mobile operators have been hearing that they were going to have to choose either Nokia or Ericsson for their 5G kit ever since they started to phase out Huawei’s equipment. The limited choices could lead to higher prices and a slower rollout. Samsung’s presence changes things, however, especially if other deals follow. Vodafone selecting Samsung granted the UK government’s wish of more suppliers entering the market after it banned Huawei equipment. Nokia and Ericsson both have signed multiple 5G deals in the UK and currently have a stronghold on the market, which plans to fight hard to keep, BBC News reports.
“This partnership represents a major market breakthrough for Samsung,” analyst Richard Webb, of CCS Insight said.
Webb added Samsung faces an uphill climb to catch up with industry leaders Ericsson and Nokia, but the company should still be viewed as “a genuine contender.”
“This contract win adds to its credibility and could be a signal for other European operators to consider Samsung as an option,” Webb said. “Vendor diversity is one of the principal tenets of the concept.”
Joe Dyton can be reached at email@example.com.