Samsung in OpenRAN deal with NTT DOCOMO; unveils 28GHz Radio Unit (RU)
Samsung Electronics announced the company is supplying a variety of 5G radios to support NTT DOCOMO’s Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) expansion. Samsung will now provide a range of Open RAN-compliant 5G radios covering all of the Time Division Duplex (TDD) spectrum bands held by the operator.
This builds upon the two companies’ 5G agreement previously-announced in March 2021, in which NTT DOCOMO selected Samsung as its 5G network solutions provider. Samsung now adds new radios — including 3.7GHz, 4.5GHz and 28GHz — to its existing 3.4GHz radio support for NTT DOCOMO.
This expanded portfolio from Samsung will enable NTT DOCOMO to leverage its broad range of spectrum across Japan to build a versatile 5G network for diversifying their services offered to consumers and businesses. The companies have also been testing the interoperability of these new radios with basebands from various vendors in NTT DOCOMO’s commercial network environment.
“We have been collaborating with Samsung since the beginning of 5G and through our Open RAN expansion, and we are excited to continue extending our scope of vision together,” said Masafumi Masuda, Vice President and General Manager of the Radio Access Network Development Department at NTT DOCOMO. “Solidifying our global leadership, we will continue to build momentum around our Open RAN innovation and to provide highly scalable and flexible networks to respond quickly to the evolving demands of our customers.”
“Japan is home to one of the world’s most densely populated areas with numerous skyscrapers and complex infrastructure. Samsung’s industry-leading 5G radios portfolio meets the demands of low-footprint, low-weight solutions, while also ensuring reliable service quality,” said Satoshi Iwao, Vice President and Head of Network Division at Samsung Electronics Japan. “As NTT DOCOMO continues to accelerate its Open RAN innovation, we look forward to working together to deliver a richer experience to consumers and generating new business opportunities.”
With this announcement, Samsung introduces its new 28GHz Radio Unit (RU) for the first time — as a new addition to its portfolio of leading mmWave solutions. This RU, which weighs less than 4.5kg (~10lbs), features a light and compact form factor with very low power consumption, enabling flexible deployments in various scenarios. Additionally, Samsung’s 3.4GHz, 3.7GHz and 4.5GHz radios are also Open RAN-compliant and designed to deliver high performance and reliability.
Last month, Samsung won a contract with NTT East to provide cloud-native 5G core and RAN equipment to the provider’s private 5G network platform. That deal followed on an agreement earlier this year for Samsung to power the operator’s private 5G network services in the east areas of Japan, and followed trials of Samsung’s 5G standalone (SA) network core in test environments.
Samsung also secured a deal with Comcast to activate the cable giant’s deep spectrum holdings and become an infrastructure-owning 5G cellular operator targeting market heavyweights Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile US. Comcast will use Samsung’s 5G RAN equipment for its Xfinity Mobile service, including a newly developed 5G Strand Small Cell that is designed to be mounted on Comcast’s existing aerial cable lines. This all-in-one piece of equipment is central to the deployment as it will allow Comcast to mount cellular antennas where it’s already running cable connections for wireless backhaul.
A recent Dell’Oro Group report noted the vendor has been gaining RAN market share at the expense of its China-based rivals Huawei and ZTE outside of their home country. This could accelerate as the U.S. Federal Communications Commission adopted new rules prohibiting domestic telecommunication operators from acquiring and using networking and other equipment from China-based vendors, including Huawei.
“While commercial Open RAN revenues continue to surprise on the upside, the underlying message that we have communicated now for some time now has not changed and remains mixed,” said Stefan Pongratz, Vice President with the Dell’Oro Group. “Early adopters are embracing the movement towards more openness but at the same time, there is more uncertainty when it comes to the early majority operator and the implications for the broader RAN supplier landscape now with non-multi vendor deployments driving a significant portion of the year-to-date Open RAN market,” continued Pongratz.
Additional Open RAN highlights from the Dell’Oro’s 3Q 2022 RAN report:
- Top 4 Open RAN revenue suppliers for the 1Q22-3Q22 period include Samsung, Fujitsu, NEC, and Mavenir.
- Trials are on the rise globally, however, North America and the Asia Pacific regions are still dominating the commercial revenue mix over the 1Q22-3Q22 period, accounting for more than 95 percent of the market.
- More than 80 percent of the year-to-date growth is driven by the North America region, supported by large scale non-Massive MIMO and Massive MIMO macro deployments.
- The rise of Open RAN has so far had a limited impact on the broader RAN (proprietary and Open RAN) market concentration. The data contained in the report suggest that the collective RAN share of the top 5 RAN suppliers (Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, ZTE, and Samsung) declined by less than one percentage point between 2021 and 1Q22-3Q22.
- Short-term projections have been revised upward to reflect the higher baseline – Open RAN is now projected to account for 6 to 10 percent of the RAN market in 2023. Open RAN growth rates, however, are expected to decelerate next year, reflecting the likelihood that the sum of new brownfield deployments will be able to offset more challenging comparisons with the early adopters.
Samsung says they have pioneered the successful delivery of 5G end-to-end solutions including chipsets, radios and core. Through ongoing research and development, Samsung drives the industry to advance 5G networks with its market-leading product portfolio from virtualized RAN and Core to private network solutions and AI-powered automation tools. The company is currently providing network solutions to mobile operators that deliver connectivity to hundreds of millions of users around the world.
NTT DOCOMO began commercial 5G services in early 2020, and included open RAN-compliant equipment provided by Fujitsu, NEC, and Nokia. The carrier more recently signed a partnership with South Korea’s SK Telecom (SKT) to develop new 5G and 6G cellular technologies and deployment plans taking advantage of open and virtualized RAN (vRAN) technology.
NTT DOCOMO is Japan’s leading mobile operator with over 85 million subscriptions, is one of the world’s foremost contributors to 3G, 4G and 5G mobile network technologies. Beyond core communications services, DOCOMO is challenging new frontiers in collaboration with a growing number of entities (“+d” partners), creating exciting and convenient value-added services that change the way people live and work. Under a medium-term plan toward 2020 and beyond, DOCOMO is pioneering a leading-edge 5G network to facilitate innovative services.