And you thought Samsung Electronics was just a mobile device/smartphone/tablet vendor?
The South Korean conglomerate has been selected to provide the UK’s smallest cellco by subscribers, Hutchison 3G UK (H3G UK), with a Long Term Evolution (LTE) Radio Access Network (RAN), as well as 3G/LTE core infrastructure solutions (likely to be the LTE Evolved Packet Core (EPC)).
In a press release confirming the announcement, Samsung noted that this marks its first commercial mobile network rollout in Europe. It has confirmed that it will deploy LTE base stations, including all associated systems and network support services, across H3G UK’s existing infrastructure. The complete LTE network infrastructure solution will be trialled this year ahead of a full deployment and commercial launch in 2013.
Dave Dyson, CEO of H3G UK, which offers services under the ‘Three’ (‘3’) banner, said of the announcement: “Three’s customers will start benefitting from this investment in our core network early next year and those benefits will grow further as we deploy new spectrum … Samsung’s advanced network technology will help us to continue to deliver the most enjoyable smartphone experience. In Samsung’s home market operators are busy turning off 2G. In the UK Three is the only operator without a 2G network which means more and more consumers are choosing the network built for the internet.”
Youngky Kim, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Telecommunication Systems Business at Samsung Electronics meanwhile noted: “This contract marks a significant milestone for Samsung and further demonstrates our commitment to the European market.”
Samsung is betting that expanding sales of LTE equipment will help catapult it to the top of the industry. According to research firm Dell’Oro Group, the LTE equipment market could grow 45 percent annually over the next five years.
UK regulator Ofcom granted permission to the country’s largest cellco, Everything Everywhere, to build out LTE this year in its 1.8GHz spectrum. This is on condition it sells some of those frequencies to 3UK. Hence, Samsung is likely to expand its 3UK deployment.
Everything Everywhere welcomed the Ofcom green light, which will enable it to go live with LTE this year. “4G will drive investment, employment and innovation and we look forward to making it available later this year, delivering superfast mobile broadband to the UK,” the operator said in a statement, though it did not detail any roll-out plans at this stage.
Ofcom restated its previous position on 1.8GHz refarming, saying: “Ofcom has concluded that varying EE’s 1800MHz licences now will deliver significant benefits to consumers, and that there is no material risk that those benefits will be outweighed by a distortion of competition. Delaying doing so would therefore be to the detriment of consumers,” it said.
“The decision takes account of the forthcoming release of additional spectrum in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands, in an auction process set to begin later this year, which will enable other operators to launch competing 4G services from next year.”
Clearly, Samsung wants to build on its success in WiMAX by becoming a viable LTE infrastructure vendor – a goal which eluded it in 3G. The South Korean vendor has won a 4G-LTE network contract from 3UK, is one of the vendors selected for Sprint’s Network Vision (LTE) program, and has LTE deals in South Korea, Japan and the Middle East.
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