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MWC LA 19: Samsung Networks expands its portfolio to meet growing demand in the US


MWC LA 19: Samsung Networks expands its portfolio to meet growing demand in the US

November 15, 2019 - by Daryl Schoolar, Ovum

Samsung Networks has made no secret of the fact it sees the US as one of its most important infrastructure markets. It already has commercial contracts with AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon, providing LTE and 5G solutions to all three operators. This does not mean Samsung Networks has maximized its opportunity with those operators, nor are those the only mobile operators in the US. Growing its presence in the US of course means growing its portfolio.

At the recent Mobile World Congress Los Angeles, Samsung publicly announced the second generation of its 28GHz mmWave base station. Unlike its previous 28GHz base station for North America, this one integrates the radio unit (RU) and distributed unit (DU) into a single form factor, making it the industry's first integrated radio for mmWave spectrum, compliant to the 3GPP NR standard. This saves money on fronthaul and makes for a simpler installation versus the previous two-box offering. According to Samsung, the new access unit can deliver 10Gbps throughput. Samsung Networks used its new 5G system on a chip (SoC) modem. This helps give the base station an approximate 25% reduction in size, weight, and energy consumption versus those without an embedded 5G chipset. The following is a picture of the new integrated 5G base station and the new 5G SOC.

Samsung's new 28GHz all-in-one base station

5G NR Integrated Radio Supporting 28GHz

[ 5G NR Integrated Radio Supporting 28GHz ]

Samsung's new 5G system on a chip (SOC) modem

Samsung's new 5G system on a chip (SOC) modem

While not naming other specific solutions, Samsung did say more 5G options were coming. This includes support for spectrum bands in the US with 2.5GHz, 3.5-4.1GHz, 26-28GHz, and 39GHz. The product roadmap includes different network architectures such as separate RU-DU options, indoor and outdoor base stations, and multiple antenna configurations including 2T2R and 4T4R. Samsung even talked of ways it could support an operator partner wanting to migrate from a traditional distributed base station to a centralized, and eventually virtualized, base station while minimizing equipment spend. So why are these options so important?

No two networks are alike. Even within a single mobile operator, that operator will have multiple network configurations. Some operators want a combined RU-DU while other want them separate as they update the two units at different intervals. Different antenna configurations allow different 5G use cases, for example, hotspot capacity to improve the mobile network versus fixed wireless access to serve a home or small business. Growing market share requires Samsung to support those different configurations.

Moving forward, it is important that Samsung continues to evolve its current portfolio. This shows ongoing R&D commitment to the area of 5G infrastructure, an important attribute when it comes to building mobile operator relationships. Operators want vendor partners that will not only deploy 5G but will also be with them throughout the full life cycle of 5G. The 28GHz radio enhancements supports this.

Samsung's latest announcements certainly helps in achieving its goal of broadening its presence and growing its market share in the US.

About the author

Daryl Schoolar

Practice leader of Ovum's Intelligent Networks team, specializing in the mobile access network, and, more specifically, technology and vendor trends around 2G, 3G, 4G (LTE), and 5G.
His research focuses on the radio access market (RAN), including traditional macro base stations, small cells, and carrier Wi-Fi. In these areas he closely follows LTE and 5G developments, as well as monitoring activities in 2G and 3G. Daryl's coverage also includes vendors and technology roadmaps.
Before joining Ovum, he was an analyst at Current Analysis and In-Stat. Daryl has also worked at Cable & Wireless in the US as a member of the market and competitive intelligence team.