Samsung Electronics and KDDI announced the successful demonstration of Service Level Agreements (SLA) assurance network slicing in a field trial conducted in Tokyo, Japan. For the first time in the industry, the companies proved their capabilities to generate multiple network slices using a RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) on a live commercial 5G Standalone (SA) network. The RIC, provided by Samsung in this field trial, is a software-based component of the Open RAN architecture that optimizes the radio resources of the RAN to improve the overall network quality.
Network slicing (which requires a 5G SA core network) enables multiple virtual networks to be created within a single physical network infrastructure, where each slice is dedicated for a specific application or service — serving different purposes. For instance, 5G SA network operators can create a low latency slice for automated vehicles, an IoT slice for smart factories and a high bandwidth slice for live video streaming — all within the same network. This means that a single 5G SA network can support a broad mix of use cases simultaneously, accelerating the delivery of new services and meeting the tailored demands of various enterprises and consumers.
“Network slicing will help us activate a wide range of services that require high performance and low latency, benefitting both consumers and businesses,” said Toshikazu Yokai, Managing Executive Officer, General Manager of Mobile Network Technical Development Division at KDDI. “Working with Samsung, we continue to deliver the most innovative technologies to enhance customer experiences.”
Through this field trial conducted in Q4 of 2022, KDDI and Samsung proved their capabilities of SLA assurance to generate multiple network slices that meet SLA requirements, guaranteeing specific performance parameters — such as low latency and high throughput — for each application. Samsung also proved the technical feasibility of multiple user equipment (UE)-based network slices with quality assurance using the RIC, which performs advanced control of RAN as defined by the O-RAN Alliance.
“Network slicing will open up countless opportunities, by allowing KDDI to offer tailor-made, high-performance connectivity, along with new capabilities and services, to its customers,” Junehee Lee, Executive Vice President, Head of Global Sales & Marketing, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics. “This demonstration is another meaningful step forward in our efforts to advance technological innovation and enrich network services. We’re excited to have accomplished this together with KDDI and look forward to continued collaboration.”
For more than a decade, the two companies have been working together, hitting major 5G networks milestones that include: KDDI’s selection of Samsung as a 5G network solutions provider, end-to-end 5G network slicing demonstration in the lab, 5G network rollout on 700MHz and the deployment of 5G vRAN on KDDI’s commercial network.
Samsung has 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.
Ericsson and Nokia demonstrate 5G Network Slicing on Google Pixel 6 Pro phones running Android 13 mobile OS
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.
South Korea’s Samsung Electronics says it has achieved record-setting average downlink speeds of 1.75 Gbps and uplink speeds of 61.5 Mbps over a 10 km (6.2 miles) 5G mmWave network in a recent field trial conducted with Australia’s NBN Co. As the farthest 28 GHz 5G mmWave Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) connection recorded by Samsung, this milestone demonstrates the expanded reach possible with this powerful spectrum, and its ability to efficiently deliver widespread broadband coverage across the country.
To achieve average downlink speeds of 1.75 Gbps at such extended range, the trial by Samsung and NBN utilized eight component carriers (8CC), which is an aggregation of 800MHz of mmWave spectrum. The potential to support large amounts of bandwidth is a key advantage of the mmWave spectrum and Samsung’s beamforming technology enables the aggregation of such large amounts of bandwidth at long distance. At its peak, the company also reached a top downlink speed of 2.7Gbps over a 10km distance from the radio.
“The results of these trials with Samsung are a significant milestone and demonstrate how we are pushing the boundaries of innovation in support of the digital capabilities in Australia,” said Ray Owen, Chief Technology Officer at NBN Co. “As we roll out the next evolution of our network to extend its reach for the benefit of homes and businesses across the country, we are excited to demonstrate the potential for 5G mmWave. nbn will be among the first in the world to deploy 5G mmWave technology at this scale, and achievements like Samsung’s 10km milestone will pave the way for further developments in the ecosystem.”
There’s a total of AUD $750 million investment in the nbn Fixed Wireless network (made up of AUD $480 million from the Australian Government and supported by an additional AUD $270 million from nbn). NBN will use software enhancements and advances in 5G technology, and in particular 5G mmWave technology, to extend the reach of the existing fixed wireless footprint by up to 50 percent and introduce two new wholesale high-speed tiers. The nbn FWA network covers nearly 650,000 premises in the country. The company wants to add at least 120,000 locations in Australia that are currently served by a satellite-based service.
“This new 5G record proves the massive potential of mmWave technology, and its ability to deliver enhanced connectivity and capacity for addressing the last mile challenges in rural areas,” said Junehee Lee, Executive Vice President and Head of R&D, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics. “We are excited to work with nbn to push the boundaries of 5G technology even further in Australia and tap the power of mmWave for customer benefit.”
As demonstrated in the trials, 5G mmWave spectrum is not only viable for the deployment of high-capacity 5G networks in dense urban areas, but also for wider FWA coverage. Extending the effective range of 5G data signals on mmWave will help address the connectivity gap, providing access to rural and remote areas where fiber cannot reach.
For the trial, Samsung used its 28GHz Compact Macro and third-party 5G mmWave customer premise equipment (CPE). Samsung’s Compact Macro is the industry’s first integrated radio for mmWave spectrum, bringing together a baseband, radio and antenna into a single form factor. This compact and lightweight solution can support all frequencies within the mmWave spectrum, simplifying deployment, and is currently deployed in commercial 5G networks across the globe, including Japan, Korea and the U.S.
Since launching the world’s first 5G mmWave FWA services in 2018 in the U.S., Samsung has been leading the industry, offering an end-to-end portfolio of 5G mmWave solutions — including in-house chipsets and radios — and advancing the 5G mmWave momentum globally.
The nbn® network is Australia’s digital backbone that helps deliver reliable and resilient broadband across a continent spanning more than seven million square kilometers. nbn is committed to responding to the digital connectivity needs of people across Australia, working with industry, governments, regulators and community partners to increase the digital capability of Australia.
Samsung has 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 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.
Nokia had previously announced it was supplying 5G FWA mmWave CPE equipment for nbn’s efforts that also operates in the 28 GHz band with similar performance characteristics stated by Samsung for its test, including a range of up to 6.2 miles from the transmission tower. However, Samsung said that Nokia’s equipment was not part of its test.
Nokia noted that its CPE includes an antenna installed on the roof of a premises that is linked using a 2.5 Gb/s power over Ethernet (PoE) connection to an indoor unit that powers the on-premises internet connectivity.
According to a new report from analyst firm Mobile Experts, Ericsson leapt into the #1 position in the RAN market for 2021. Ericsson (see Table 1. at bottom of this article), which achieved a 26.9% share of a market that grew by about 3% in value to be worth in the region of $45 billion last year.
Sanctions hit Huawei very hard as the Chinese tech giant dropped to third place in the RAN market in terms of the value of sales with a 20.4% market share. Huawei had a shortfall of roughly $4B last year due to the company’s inability to produce high-capacity TDD base stations. That was because of U.S. Government sanctions on the critical components needed. As a result, Huawei achieved much lower dollar value than their western competitors.
Nokia (21.9% market share) placed third while ZTE achieved fourth place (14.5%) ahead of Samsung (8% market share).
“Our approach to forecasting is deeply analytical, using data from more than 100 sources, rather than simply the inputs of five OEMs. Our approach works. This analyst team has been creating some of the most accurate, detailed forecasting on the market for over a decade,” commented Chief Analyst of Mobile Experts, Joe Madden. “We have developed relationships with suppliers, operators, and vendors that give us data for a three-pronged approach to triangulation on mobile infrastructure revenue.”
Mobile Experts’ models show the RAN market growing at a CAGR (Cumulative Annualized Growth Rate) of 3%, with -1% growth in macro base stations and 25%-35% growth in millimeter wave and software segments. The analyst firm, known for their unmatched accuracy, leverage over a decade of ear-to-ground experience in this market to present this detailed market forecast that presents last year’s findings concisely and completely as well as presenting what’s next for the RAN market and its players.
“Overall, the RAN market is looking up. After 30 years of boom-and-bust cycles, the market is currently reaching a peak with 5G deployment in its active mode this year. In coming years, we see new revenue coming in from private enterprises to offset the natural drop in CSP sales; specifically, the private LTE/5G market will grow by 19%, accounting for more than $4 billion in 2026. As a result, the total RAN market will remain near its 5G peak for a few years, with the possibility for growth in the longer term,” commented Chief Analyst Joe Madden.
Total Year Review for 2021 – Global RAN Revenue:
This pre-earnings report offers a comprehensive overview of the RAN market with Mobile Experts’ signature accuracy and detailed breakdowns. This quarter’s report includes revenue estimates for the top 25 vendors in the RAN market for 2021. This is the first of a series of quarterly updates, and it is available today for instant download with purchase at www.mobile-experts.net.
For more about this research and buy the report, click here.
About Mobile Experts Inc.:
Mobile Experts provides insightful market analysis for the mobile infrastructure and mobile handset markets. Our analysts are true Experts, who remain focused on topics where each analyst has 25 years of experience or more. Research topics center on technology introduction for radio frequency (RF) and communications innovation. Recent publications include: RAN Revenue, Cellular V2X, Fixed Mobile Convergence, Edge Computing, In-Building Wireless, CIoT, URLLC, Macro Base Station Transceivers, Small Cells, VRAN, and Private LTE.
Table 1: Ericsson’s headline figures (Swedish Krona-SEK billions)
|Research and development expenses||-42.1||-39.7||–|
|Selling and administrative expenses||-27.0||-26.7||–|
|Impairment losses on trade receivables||0.0||0.1||-134%|
|Other operating income and expenses||0.4||0.7||-45%|
|Share in earnings of JV and associated companies||-0.3||-0.3||–|
|– of which networks||37.3||30.9||21%|
|– of which digital services||-3.6||-2.2||–|
|– of which managed services||1.5||1.6||-6%|
|– of which emerging business and other||-3.4||-2.4||–|
|Financial income and expenses, net||-2.5||-0.6||–|
Samsung Electronics has announced that it is collaborating with the France headquartered telecom operator Orange, to disaggregate the software and hardware elements of traditional RAN. The South Korea based tech giant will provide its virtualized RAN (vRAN), “which has been proven in the field through commercial deployments with global Tier one operators including the U.S.”
As one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators, Orange provides mobile services to 222 million users in 26 countries along with Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Through this partnership, Samsung and Orange aim to deploy O-RAN Alliance-compliant base stations beginning with rural and indoor configurations and then, expanding to new deployments in the future.
“Open RAN is a major evolution of radio access that requires deeper cooperation within the industry. With our European peers, we want to accelerate the development of Open RAN solutions that meet our needs. After the publication of common specifications, Orange’s Open RAN Integration Center will support the development and tuning of solutions from a broad variety of actors,” said Arnaud Vamparys, Senior Vice President of Radio Access Networks and Microwaves at Orange.
Samsung’s vRAN solutions can help ensure more network flexibility, greater scalability and resource efficiency for network operation by replacing dedicated baseband hardware with software elements. Additionally, Samsung’s vRAN supports both low and mid-band spectrums, as well as indoor and outdoor solutions. Samsung is the only major network vendor that has conducted vRAN commercial deployments with Tier one operators in North America, Europe and Asia.
“We are pleased to participate in Orange’s innovative laboratory,” said Woojune Kim, Executive Vice President, Head of Global Sales & Marketing, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics. “Through this collaboration, we look forward to taking networks to new heights in the European market, enabling operators to offer more immersive mobile services to their users.”
By opening its Open RAN Integration Center in Châtillon, near Paris, Orange will enable the testing and deployment of networks capable of operating with innovative technologies, which will serve as the backbone of the operator’s future networks. At the center, Samsung and Orange will conduct trials to verify capabilities and performance of Samsung’s vRAN, radio and Massive MIMO radio.
With a vRAN approach, carriers are able to rapidly shift capacity to address customer needs. For business customers, vRAN can drive more efficient access to private 5G networks through easy deployment of baseband software in Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) facilities.
“We are committed to providing reliable, secure, and flexible network solutions that deliver the power of 5G around the world,” said Magnus Ojert, Vice President, Networks Division, Samsung Electronics America. “We believe vRAN’s next phase of innovation will accelerate what’s possible for society and look forward to collaborating with an industry-leader like Verizon to make 5G a reality for millions in 2021.”
Samsung says they have “pioneered the successful delivery of 5G end-to-end infrastructure 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 fully 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.”
At 2021 MWC LA, Samsung Electronics and Ciena announced that they are collaborating to deliver 5G solutions (?) by coupling Samsung’s 5G RAN and core network with Ciena’s xHaul routing and switching portfolio. The collaboration will enable the companies to offer hardware and software solutions to telecom operators to support the increasing volume of 5G data traffic at the edge and within an increasingly distributed 5G architecture.
Rafael Francis, senior director of solutions architecture at Ciena, sited the blurring between the RAN, transport and core network as motivation for the partnership with Samsung.
Image Courtesy of ACG Research
“The domains of RAN, transport and core are becoming more tied in the sense as operators roll out 5G with new architectures and approaches, like virtualized RAN (vRAN) or cloud RAN (cRAN),” Francis told RCR Wireless News. “Effectively, the network becomes an integral part of that because you not only have backhaul networks, but you have fronthaul and mid-haul networks, and these things all need to interoperate.”
5G xHaul transport needs a solution-level approach that includes both a feature-rich box and a well-integrated automation and orchestration platform. Ciena provides a complete yet open solution with its innovative Adaptive IPTM portfolio, which is well integrated with its Blue Planet Automation software. The company has simplified the 5G xHaul transport with a lean and open set of IP protocols driven by analytics focused, multidomain and multivendor closed-loop orchestration layer.
Alok Shah, Samsung’s VP of strategy, business development and marketing for the company’s networks business, agreed with Francis, adding, “Networks used to be a lot easier to understand. The RAN and the core were well defined, and the transport was backhaul for the cell sites.”
Now, though, in the world of vRAN and cRAN, the backhaul is only one means of transport. There is also fronthaul and mid-haul and, according to Shah, each one has a different level of performance requirement; when it comes to the fronthaul, in particular, the link between fronthaul and the RAN equipment has to be “really tight.”
“Because, you want to make sure that if you’re running 25 Gbps from your radio back to baseband unit, you want to make sure you’re getting the full performance out of that link,” Shah added.
Further, the combined offering will help operators accelerate critical 5G capabilities such as network slicing (requires 5G SA Core network), which Francis singled out a perfect example of why coordination across network domains has become more critical in a 5G era.
“Concepts and capabilities brought by 5G such as network slicing that can be used to drive new revenues and services for MNOs (mobile network operators) must be well coordinated across RAN, transport and core to really have the correct impact like ensuring SLAs and partitioning resources,” Shah said.
Wonil Roh, SVP and head of product strategy for Samsung Electronics’ network business said, “In order to deliver more powerful 5G services, the current network architecture needs to evolve. Samsung’s ability to couple our best-in-class 5G solutions with a leader in transport technologies like Ciena will give customers a solution to address this need, and do so with the confidence to scale and evolve their networks to support the future of 5G.”
Dell’Oro Group VP Stefan Pongratz noted that the two vendors have no material overlap. “Ciena’s telecom equipment revenues are primarily driven by its optical transport and SP switch portfolio while Samsung focuses on the RAN and mobile core markets,” he said. Stefan added that “as the backhaul becomes fronthaul, the transport requirements will change, which could impact the value of pre-integrated solutions.”
Samsung will deploy its cloud-native, fully virtualized Radio Access Network (vRAN) in KDDI’s 5G network, following the successful completion of a 5G Standalone (SA) call using Samsung’s vRAN and another vendor’s 5G Massive MIMO radios. Among other capabilities, virtualized networks will enable 5G network slicing. Samsung and KDDI will begin trials in Q1 of 2022, and start commercial deployment in the second half of 2022.
“We are delighted to extend our collaboration with Samsung and to become the first operator in Japan to use their 5G vRAN solutions, which are currently delivering superior performance in commercial networks,” said Kazuyuki Yoshimura, Chief Technology Officer of KDDI. “We believe in the power of virtualization, and this collaboration serves as a meaningful catalyst for driving the next phase of 5G innovation, and advancing our networks to offer best-in-class 5G services.”
With its latest 5G vRAN technology, Samsung brings a range of improvements to KDDI’s network. By replacing dedicated baseband hardware with software elements, vRAN offers more deployment flexibility, greater scalability and improved resource efficiency in network operation. With its cloud-native, container-based architecture, Samsung’s vRAN also simplifies end-to-end network management through automation, allowing operators to quickly introduce new services with minimal impact on deployment.
“With commercially-proven performance and reliability, our vRAN is an attractive technology option for operators — from both the deployment and operational perspectives,” said Woojune Kim, Executive Vice President, Head of Global Sales & Marketing, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics.
“We are excited to mark another milestone with KDDI, following previous network collaborations that include the commercialization of 5G in 2020, and the rollout of 700MHz 5G in 2021. We look forward to our ongoing work with KDDI to bring new 5G innovations to their customers.”
Virtualized networks will play a key role in supporting KDDI’s pursuit of new 5G use cases and next-generation capabilities. Last year, Samsung and KDDI demonstrated how 5G end-to-end network slicing could play a key role for mobile operators by enabling the creation of multiple virtual networks within a single physical network infrastructure.
Samsung has been at the forefront of vRAN leadership around the world, unveiling its fully virtualized 5G RAN in 2020, followed by successful commercialization with a Tier 1 operator in the U.S. In June 2021, the company was selected by a major European operator to bring vRAN to the U.K.
Samsung recently demonstrated its vRAN capability to support Massive MIMO radios on mid-band, reaching multi-gigabit speeds. The company also teamed with a Tier 1 U.S. operator to complete an end-to-end 5G vRAN trial over C-Band in a live network environment, demonstrating vRAN performance equal to that of traditional hardware-based equipment.
Verizon and Samsung Electronics recently completed an end-to-end fully virtualized 5G data session over C-band spectrum in a live network environment. The new milestone was reached in preparation for its upcoming 5G Ultra Wideband expansion using its newly acquired C Band spectrum.
This trial used cloud-native end-to-end virtualization and Massive MIMO technology to optimize 5G performance on C-band spectrum.
“We have been driving the industry to large scale virtualization using the advanced architecture we have built into our network from the core to the far edge. This recent accomplishment paves the way for a more programmable, efficient, and scalable 5G network,” said Adam Koeppe, Senior Vice President of Technology Planning at Verizon. “Customers deserve more than mere access to 5G. They deserve 5G built with the highest, gold-standard engineering practices that have positioned Verizon as the most reliable industry leader for years.”
Virtualization Is Important for 5G Performance Optimization:
The trials, conducted over Verizon’s network (using C-band Special Temporary Authority granted to Verizon by the FCC) in Texas, Connecticut and Massachusetts, used Samsung’s fully virtualized RAN (vRAN) solution built on its own software stack and C-band 64T64R Massive MIMO radio in coordination with Verizon’s virtualized core. The trials achieved speeds commensurate with traditional hardware-based equipment
Virtualization is critical to delivering the services promised by advanced 5G networks. Key 5G use cases such as massive scale IOT solutions, more robust consumer devices and solutions, AR/VR, remote healthcare, autonomous robotics in manufacturing environments, and ubiquitous smart city solutions, will heavily rely on the programmability of virtualized networks.
Cloud native virtualized architecture leads to greater flexibility, faster delivery of services, greater scalability, and improved cost efficiency in networks, paving the way for wide-scale mobile edge computing and network slicing. This technology enables Verizon to rapidly respond to customers’ varied latency and computing needs. Virtualization will also lower the barrier to entry for new vendors in the ecosystem. New entrants will accelerate innovation, reduce operating costs, and lay the groundwork for flexible network and cloud infrastructure closer to the customer, eventually leading to single digit millisecond latency.
“We’re proud to mark another milestone following our first large-scale commercial 5G vRAN deployment for Verizon, which is currently servicing millions of users. This trial reinforces our commitment to helping operators evolve their advanced 5G networks,” said Junehee Lee, Executive Vice President and Head of R&D, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics. “This achievement represents our dedicated efforts in leading the transition to virtualization, and helping Verizon realize greater efficiency, scalability and flexibility. vRAN is a powerful enabler for network transformation, and we aim to continue leading this journey.”
Why Massive MIMO Is Important for 5G Performance Optimization:
Massive MIMO is an evolution in antenna arrays that uses a high number of transmitters which enables more possible signal paths between a device and a cell tower. It also reduces interference through beamforming, which directs the beam from the cell site directly to where the customer is resulting in higher and more consistent speeds for customers using apps and uploading and downloading files. This trial used Samsung’s C-band 64T64R Massive MIMO radios that support digital/dynamic beamforming, SU-MIMO, MU-MIMO and dual connectivity and carrier aggregation.
“Incorporating full, cloud-native virtualization, Massive MIMO and beamforming into our network design and deployment will result in so much more than our customers merely seeing a 5G icon on their devices. This is 5G service optimized for peak performance,” said Koeppe.
Today’s milestone follows Samsung’s recent announcement on expanding its vRAN capability to support mid-band Massive MIMO radios—a first for the industry. Samsung’s C-band Massive MIMO radio is part of a complete C-band solutions portfolio.
Verizon on Track To Deliver 5G Over C-band:
This virtualization work comes on the heels of other work to speed the expansion of 5G Ultra Wideband service using C-band spectrum including:
- Successful trials integrating C-band with mmWave licensed spectrum,
- Securing new agreements with Verizon’s tower partners, which provide for process improvements including standardizing and reducing forms and minimizing legal reviews, and…
- Installation of C-band equipment.
These combined efforts, along with ongoing lab and field trials to optimize 5G technology on C-band spectrum will allow Verizon to offer expanded mobility and broadband services to millions more consumers and businesses as soon as the spectrum is cleared.
In the first quarter of 2022, Verizon expects to put its new 5G C-band spectrum into service in the initial 46 markets and to provide 5G Ultra Wideband service to 100 million people. Over 2022 and 2023, coverage is expected to increase to more than 175 million people and by 2024 and beyond, when the remaining C-band spectrum is cleared, more than 250 million people are expected to have access to Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband service on C-band spectrum.
About Verizon Communications Inc.
Verizon Communications Inc. was formed on June 30, 2000 and is one of the world’s leading providers of technology, communications, information and entertainment products and services. Headquartered in New York City and with a presence around the world, Verizon generated revenues of $128.3 billion in 2020. The company offers data, video and voice services and solutions on its award-winning networks and platforms, delivering on customers’ demand for mobility, reliable network connectivity, security and control.
The VoNR call service fully utilizes 5G SA architecture for an improved high definition quality call experience, while providing 5G speeds for data-driven activities throughout the duration of the voice calls In comparison to calls made on the 5G non-standalone (NSA) network, which rides on existing 4G networks, the VoNR service boasts faster call setup time and seamless voice call continuity, presenting M1 customers with the true 5G experience. M1 customers will be able to enjoy the benefits of VoNR service as M1 gears up for its 5G SA market trial launch on the 27th of July.
The two companies said that VoNR service will open up numerous 5G SA-enabled data services and provide the baseline for quality video conferencing or augmented and virtual reality features, offering a glimpse into the possible connectivity solutions 5G SA will enable M1 to bring to its subscribers. This author is quite skeptical of that claim.
The underlying technology relies on the network having a 5G Core and IMS architecture (IP Multimedia Subsystem, a standard used for voice over LTE (VoLTE) and now voice over 5G networks). M1 also said it was the world’s first to implement VoNR, although that claim also was made by Deutsche Telekom, who implemented VoNR using multiple 5G vendors.
According to M1, VoNR offers faster call setup times, more seamless voice call continuity, and an improved high definition quality call experience when compared to calls made via 5G non-standalone (5G NSA) networks. [5G NSA technology relies on a 4G- LTE anchor for everything except data transmission.]
The new VoNR feature will be available as an over-the-air update to compatible 5G Samsung devices on M1’s 5G Booster Plan, on top of getting data speeds “almost five times faster than 4G.”
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, S21+ and S21 customers on M1 network will be amongst the first in the world to enjoy the benefits of the VoNR network via an over-the-air software update on M1’s 5G Booster Plan. Customers can also look forward to seamless connectivity with an ultra-fast data speed rate that is almost five times faster than 4G. Furthermore, paired with Samsung’s 5G compatible devices, multi-tasking is possible with remarkable productivity improvement.
“We have once again reached a groundbreaking milestone in our 5G SA journey – to be the first in the world to successfully support VoNR service on our 5G SA network. We are glad to work with a like-minded partner like Samsung to achieve high quality call and better 5G experience for our customers. With M1’s imminent market trial of the 5G SA network, we are excited to leverage 5G SA’s low latency, ultra-responsive, highly secured and high-throughput mobile connectivity to deliver high performance and reliable 5G services for our consumers and enterprises. This step in our 5G implementation journey is in line with the Keppel Group’s Vision 2030, which includes enhancing connectivity for communities,” said Mr. Denis Seek, Chief Technical Officer, M1.
“Samsung is proud to play a pioneering role in placing Singapore at the forefront of network technology innovation, turning on next-generation service in the country. Committed to inspiring the world and shaping the future with transformative ideas and technologies, we are taking a meaningful step in realising the full potential of 5G for consumers and industries. With VoNR, we look forward to delivering more transformative experiences to customers and businesses with M1,” said Ms. Sarah Chua, Vice-President, IT and mobile, Samsung Electronics Singapore.
Samsung Electronics is focusing on Europe to retain its accelerating growth in the network equipment business. Even though Samsung Electronics is number one in memory chips and smartphones, it is behind Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia and ZTE in the 5G network equipment market.
Samsung Electronics had a 6 to 8% global telecom equipment market share as of the first quarter of 2021, according to Dell’Oro Group’s latest report. The company is just below Cisco (the world’s dominant router maker) and slightly ahead of Ciena (optical network market leader) to be ranked sixth over all in global telecom equipment revenues. Samsung is likely #5 in 5G RAN revenues, behind Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia and ZTE, but its 5G market share can not be determined at this time.
Since Samsung landed a $6.65 billion 5G infrastructure deal with Verizon and another huge deal with Japan’s NTT Docomo, its 5G network equipment business has been on an upward sales trajectory.
Samsung is taking extra steps and expanding its range of 5G trials in Europe. Currently, Samsung is conducting 5G trials with European telecom companies such as Deutsche Telekom in the Czech Republic, Play Communications in Poland, and other undisclosed European carriers.
Samsung recently won a big contract with Vodafone to supply the big European network operator with their cloud native virtualized RAN. That will be deployed in an Open RAN environment with other vendors (see below). Samsung says that it has been continuously leading in vRAN innovation, most recently showing the capability to support the multi-gigabit speeds of Massive MIMO radios on commercial off the shelf (COTS) servers.
“We are proud that this collaboration with Vodafone — one of the premier carriers in the world — will be the first scaled deployment of our pioneering 5G technologies in Europe, including vRAN and O-RAN,” said Paul Kyungwhoon Cheun, president and head of Networks Business at Samsung Electronics, in a statement. “This is a major step forward, as more operators are transitioning into new RAN technologies to prioritize user experience and efficiency.”
Vodafone’s initial focus will be on the 2,500 sites in the UK that it committed to open RAN in October 2020. According to Vodafone, it’s one of the largest deployments in the world and will be built jointly with Dell, NEC, Samsung and Wind River.
Asia, Oceana and India:
Samsung is also looking to expand in markets such as Southeast Asia, Australia and India. The South Korean giant said it has gained multiple new clients for its 5G equipment and systems which have increased by nearly 35% a year on average.
Samsung’s 5G vRAN kit debuted in July, adding a virtualized distributed unit (vDU) to its virtualized central unit (vCU) so the entire baseband is virtualized, along with a range of radio units. Samsung is Verizon’s 5G RAN vendor in parts of upstate New York and New England, a Verizon spokesperson confirmed. This is depicted in the illustration below:
Block Diagram of Samsung’s vRAN
Contrary to a recent Reuters article, there are no 5G stand alone/5G core networks in South Korea. Rather, South Korean telecom operators currently provide 5G services via non–standalone 5G networks, which depend on previous 4G-LTE networks which do NOT have a virtualized core (the 4G core network is called Evolved Packet Core).
The country’s three operators (SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus) launched 5G service in April 2019. 5G NSA networks are available mostly in large Korean cities. Their 5G RANs are based on 3GPP Release 15 version of 5G-NR. In April 2021, the three operators agreed to share their 5G networks in 131 remote locations across the country, Yonhap news agency reported
Samsung’s network equipment business is relatively small for the conglomerate. It had revenue of 236.8 trillion South Korean Won ($212.50 billion) for 2020. The company does not announce separate numbers for the business and most analysts don’t have estimates for it.
Samsung said since the 5G network rollouts began in 2019 in various countries, it has seen the number of new clients for its 5G equipment and systems rise by 35% a year on average.
Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese telecom gear vendors have faced backlash for various security and privacy issues. Since the U.S. has excluded Huawei from 5G rollouts, it has provided multiple opportunities to competitors to expand its market share. Many Central and Eastern European countries, including Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states, have been broadly receptive to American arguments against Huawei.
Samsung is capitalizing on its virtualized RAN technology that allows telecom companies to freely use off-the-shelf network equipment in various combinations to connect users to networks. This is how the company plans to win 5G contracts that might otherwise have been awarded to Chinese telecom vendors, especially Huawei. For example, Verizon says they’ve already adopted Samsung’s vRAN technology for their 5G RAN.
Samsung’s goal is to become top-three in the 5G network equipment business, Woojune Kim, executive vice president of Samsung’s networks business told Reuters. However, Kim did not give a timeframe, citing the industry’s long incubation time period. “It took us about a decade to win the Verizon deal, since forming early relationships… It takes persistence,” he said.
Therefore, the period to achieve the #3 goal is still unknown. It might depend on Huawei’s revenue collapsing due to sanctions and Samsung moving ahead of ZTE to claim the #3 position behind Ericsson and Nokia.