South Korea’s Samsung scored another win in the US infrastructure market, confirming its selection as a supplier of full network gear (including radios and routers) for Verizon’s commercial fixed wireless access (FWA) 5G launch in Houston later this year.
The news marks Samsung’s latest victory in its quest to expand its presence in the US network market and become one of the top three global equipment vendors by 2022.
It is also further evidence of the competitive nature of the 5G network market in the US – this week Fierce Wireless reported that Nokia’s CEO acknowledged his company lost a “small number” of Verizon’s markets (to rival Ericsson).
Verizon announced earlier this year Samsung will also provide equipment for its 5G rollout in Sacramento, California. But Samsung director of marketing Derek Johnston told Mobile World Live the company wants to deepen its relationship with US operators even further, noting the shift to 5G presents a key opening.
“As US operators have embraced things like the Open RAN initiative, it’s provided us with opportunities to break in where previously it was extremely challenging to get in because of incumbency…With 5G as a transition globally to a new standard of technology, it’s given us further opportunities to get in with operators.”
Winning them over
Johnston said Samsung has been working toward this moment for some time, starting mmWave research and development in 2012, and digging into the IP technology that is rapidly becoming the backbone of a data-centric world.
He added Samsung’s 5G portfolio is growing fast, with support for 28GHz soon to be supplemented by 3.5GHz capabilities. It is also developing 2.5GHz and 37GHz-40GHz technology as well.
The company is already working with all four tier-1 operators in the US, providing equipment for FWA 5G trials with Verizon in seven US cities and an AT&T FWA 5G trial. Samsung also conducted a series of 5G technology demonstrations for T-Mobile US and supplied 5G-ready equipment for Sprint’s network.
Though most of its work in the US has been for FWA applications, Johnston said Samsung demoed how mmWave technology can be used for mobility. He added the company is continuing to work with operators on a variety of use cases and expects to deploy new test beds for applications including mobility and smart cities.
Thus far, he noted US operators have all been “very receptive” to Samsung’s technology and its demonstrated ability to rapidly stand up and maintain high performance networks (as it did with Reliance Jio in India). He said results from those trials are already starting to show in the form of 5G supplier agreements, adding Samsung is hoping they bear more fruit in the near future.
While it is clearly trying to increase its market share, Johnston said Samsung is interested in a particular kind of growth:
“Our objective is not necessarily to be a market share leader for market share’s sake, but to be a leader in the top markets that are data centric and technology forward. So we’re working with operators that recognise the need for highly advanced networks that are feature built and rich with capabilities. We’re not going to play in markets where cost is the primary driver or [they’re looking at] just standing up a robust network for voice.”
In addition to the US, Johnston said markets which fit that bill include southeast Asia and India.