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.
Singtel 5G SA:
The operator said it has deployed over a thousand 5G sites across Singapore in strategic locations such as Orchard Road, the Central Business District, Marina Bay, Harbourfront and Sentosa, as well as major residential areas including Sengkang, Punggol, Pasir Ris, Jurong East, Woodlands, and more.
However, it appears that service availability will be fairly limited at first. Indeed, Singtel indicated that only “selected customers” are being given “early access” to the new 5G SA network. The ONLY 5G SA device currently available is the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G smartphone, said to be running a “Singtel-exclusive beta release of Samsung’s 5G SA software.”
“We are thrilled to introduce supercharged connectivity on Singapore’s most powerful 5G network. Our customers will be among the first in the world to enjoy the benefits that 5G SA can deliver. Wherever they are, consumers can stream 4K videos seamlessly, share favorite photos and moments with friends instantaneously, and enjoy lag-free gameplay and video conferencing. 5G SA will also fuel new innovations, being a key enabler of the digital transformation across industry sectors,” said Ms. Anna Yip, CEO, Consumer Singapore, Singtel.
Customers can register their interest at www.singtel.com/5GSAearlyaccess to be one of the first customers to experience Singtel’s 5G SA network. Customers with creative entries on how 5G will transform their lives will be selected to receive a “5G Power Up” kit that comprises a 5G SA SIM card, a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G handset and cool accessories.
Winners who receive the 5G Power Up Kit will need to perform just TWO tasks to be eligible to exchange their test phone for a brand New Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G:
- Test the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G SA-ready handset on Singtel 5G and provide feedback at singtel.com/5gfeedback
- Post a video of yourself on either Facebook or Instagram with a caption on how Singtel 5G transforms the way you live, work and play. Remember to make the post public, tag @singtel and hashtag #FirstonSingtel5GSA #galaxy5G #Galaxy5GxSingtel
Since September 2020, Singtel claims to have been operating Singapore’s fastest 5G NSA network under a market trial, offering 5G speeds of up to 1.2 Gbps. Within a year of receiving its 5G licence, Singtel has now turned on 5G SA and deployed over a thousand 5G sites across Singapore in strategic locations such as Orchard Road, the Central Business District, Marina Bay, Harbourfront and Sentosa, as well as major residential areas including Sengkang, Punggol, Pasir Ris, Jurong East, Woodlands, and more. It is the only telco in Singapore to roll out in-building 5G, covering popular malls such as VivoCity and Ngee Ann City, and will continue to expand its indoor 5G footprint in the coming months.
Singtel is focused on accelerating 5G innovation and 5G adoption in enterprises, launching Genie, the world’s first portable 5G-in-a-box platform and expanding its 5G ecosystem with 5G Multi-access Edge Compute trials in collaboration with Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.
Samsung’s 5G Core Network has been developed and verified in a cloud native environment. Designed based on ‘Micro-services’, ‘Containers’ and ‘Stateless’ architectures,’ it will take full advantage of the cloud, acting as the key enabler for the rapid realization of 5G innovation. Samsung says it will boost 5G Core network function development and verification capabilities as well as enable automatic service upgrades and deployments for optimized operational efficiency.
Image courtesy of Samsung
Other 5G SA networks coming to Singapore:
Antina Pte. Ltd. (Antina), the #2 mobile operator in Singapore has selected Nokia for its 5G SA network deployment. Antina is a very new telco which was incorporated on September 3 , 2020 in Singapore. It has been operating for 256 days before that.
Nokia has already laid claim to launching the first 5G RAN and SA network for the M1-StarHub Joint Venture, although the commercial deployment of the network has not yet been announced.
Nokia will provide equipment from its comprehensive AirScale portfolio and CloudRAN solution to build the Radio Access Network (RAN) for the 5G SA infrastructure, utilizing the 3.5GHz spectrum band. Nokia will supply 5G base stations and its small cells solution for indoor coverage, as well as other radio access products. Nokia’s 5G SA technology will provide Singaporean enterprises with the opportunity to explore multiple new use cases due to the network’s higher bandwidth, higher uplink speeds and lower-latency.
M1 and StarHub plan to jointly build a 5G network but will offer services independently. In April 2020, the Singapore regulator awarded two 5G licenses to Singtel and Antina, the joint venture (JV) between the second- and third-largest telcos, StarHub and M1.
Singtel and the JV were assigned 100MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum, while Singtel, StarHub and M1 each received 800MHz of mmWave spectrum for “localized coverage.”
All three operators nevertheless decided to offer 5G NSA in the meantime, in order to give users an early taste of 5G services.
State of 5G SA Networks:
5G SA network rollouts remain scarce and underwhelming (e.g. T-Mobile US) as most operators around the world are initially focusing on the less complicated 5G NSA.
That’s really a no brainer: 5G NSA is based on 4G LTE core network (EVC), signaling and network management, while 5G SA. 5G Core Network implementation has not been standardized and there is no definitive spec that will lead to similar implementations. Hence, 5G SA/5G Core network is proprietary to each network operator and requires a UNIQUE 5G SA software update for each 5G endpoint (smartphone, tablet, laptop, IoT, robot, etc). Most 5G network operators say they will implement 5G SA in a “cloud native core network,” whatever that is?
According to a March 2021 update from the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), about 68 operators in 38 countries have been investing in public 5G SA networks in the form of trials, planned or actual deployments. This compares with over 400 operators known to be investing in 5G licenses, trials or deployments, the GSA said.
The global smartphone market climbed 28.1% year on year to reach total shipments of 351.1 million units in the first quarter of 2021, according to preliminary data from Informa owned Omdia. That gain consolidates the smartphone market’s recent recovery after it posted its first annual growth since Q3 2019 in the final quarter of 2020. However, Omdia said 2021 is set to be a year of transition with Huawei’s role continuing to change, LG exiting the market and a severe semiconductor shortage affecting sales.
Samsung took over the top spot from Apple in the first 3 months of 2021, shipping 76.1 million units, up 29.2 percent year on year, to reach 22 percent of the market. The company was able to increase shipments by 22.8 percent from Q4 2020 thanks in part to an early update to the Galaxy S line as well as the launch of its latest range of devices in the A series.
Apple followed its blockbuster Q4 2020 with another significant year on year growth of 46.5% to reach 56.4 million units shipped in the quarter, equivalent to 16% of the market, followed in third place by Xiaomi with 14% after shipping 49.5 million units, up 78.3% year on year.
Two more Chinese smartphone brands – Oppo and Vivo – continue to battle for fourth and fifth place in the global rankings and remain tied on 11 percent of the market. Vivo shipped 38.2 million units, just above the 37.8 million units Oppo shipped in Q1.
Year on year, Vivo grew shipments by 95.9 percent and Oppo by 85.3 percent, as they overtook Huawei, which slipped out of the top 5 global smartphone OEM ranking after shipping 14.7 million units, some 70 percent less than in Q1 2020, not including the 3.6 million units shipped by its sub-brand Honor, which is now an independent entity.
Top 10 Shipments per manufacturer
|Shipment (m)||M/S||Shipment (m)||M/S||Shipment (m)||M/S|
Gerrit Schneemann, principal analyst at Omdia commented: “The smartphone market continues to show resiliency in the face of multiple challenges. The global component supply shortage is looming large over the market. On the other hand, two well-known smartphone brands will disappear from the global smartphone market this year, in Huawei and LG, opening the door for other brands to reach new markets and buyers.”
Separately, International Data Corporation (IDC) said that the smartphone market accelerated in the first quarter of 2021 (1Q-2021) with 25.5% year-over-year shipment growth.
According to preliminary data from the (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smartphone vendors shipped nearly 346 million devices during the quarter. The strong growth came from all regions with the greatest gains coming from China and Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan and China). As the two largest regions globally, accounting for half of all global shipments, these regions experienced 30% and 28% year-over-year growth, respectively.
“The recovery is proceeding faster than we expected, clearly demonstrating a healthy appetite for smartphones globally. But amidst this phenomenal growth, we must remember that we are comparing against one of the worst quarters in smartphone history,1Q20, the start of the pandemic when the bulk of the supply chain was at a halt and China was in full lockdown,” said Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. “However, the growth is still very real; when compared to two years ago (1Q19), shipments are 11% higher. The growth is coming from years of repressed refresh cycles with a boost from 5G. But above all, it is a clear illustration of how smartphones are becoming an increasingly important element of our everyday life – a trend that is expected to continue as we head into a post-pandemic world with many consumers carrying forward the new smartphone use cases which emerged from the pandemic.”
As the smartphone market is recovering, a major shift is happening in the competitive landscape. Huawei is finally out of the Top 5 for the first time in many years, after suffering heavy declines under the increased weight of U.S. sanctions. Taking advantage of this are the Chinese vendors Xiaomi, OPPO, and vivo, which all grew share over last quarter landing them in 3rd, 4th, and 5th places globally during the quarter with 14.1%, 10.8%, and 10.1% share, respectively. All three vendors are increasing their focus in international markets where Huawei had grown its share in recent years. In the low- to mid-priced segment, it is these vendors that are gaining the most from Huawei’s decline, while most of the high-end share is going to Apple and Samsung. Samsung regained the top spot in 1Q21 with impressive shipments of 75.3 million and 21.8% share. The new S21 series did well for Samsung, mainly thanks to a successful pricing strategy shaving off $200 from last year’s flagship launch. Apple, with continued success of its iPhone 12 series, lost some share from their very strong holiday quarter but still shipped an impressive 55.2 million iPhones grabbing 16.0% share.
“While Huawei continues its decline in the smartphone market, we’ve also learned that LG is exiting the market altogether,” said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. “Most of LG’s volume was in the Americas with North America accounting for over 50% of its volume and Latin America another 30%. Despite the vendor losing ground in recent years, they still had 9% of the North America market and 6% of Latin America. Their exit creates some immediate opportunity for other brands. With competition being more cutthroat than ever, especially at the low-end, it is safe to assume that 6-10 brands are eyeing this share opportunity.”
|Top 5 Smartphone Companies, Worldwide Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Q1 2021 (shipments in millions of units)|
|Company||1Q21 Shipment Volumes||1Q21 Market Share||1Q20 Shipment Volumes||1Q20 Market Share||Year-Over-Year Change|
|Source: IDC Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, April 28, 2021|
- Data are preliminary and subject to change.
- Company shipments are branded device shipments and exclude OEM sales for all vendors.
- The “Company” represents the current parent company (or holding company) for all brands owned and operated as a subsidiary.
- Figures represent new shipments only and exclude refurbished units.
“Globally, the top five vendors combined took a 76% market share in Q1 2021, up from 71% a year ago. Chip shortages and supply side constraints did not have a significant impact in Q1 among the top 5 brands,” said Linda Sui, senior director, Strategy Analytics. Samsung’s newly launched A series 4G and 5G phones, and the earlier launched Galaxy S21 series combined drove solid performance in the quarter. Xiaomi maintained strong momentum in both India and China, and the expansion in Europe, Latin America and Africa region also started to bear fruit.
Note: Strategy Analytics said the global smartphone shipments were 340 million units in Q1 2021, up over 24% (year-on-year) representing the highest growth since 2015. The smartphone market rebound was driven by the healthy demand of consumers with aging devices and a phenomenal 5G push from Chinese smartphone vendors.
Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics said it has developed a new System-on-Chip (SoC) for its Massive MIMO and other advanced radios in partnership with U.S. chipmaker Marvell. It is expected to be available in Q2 2021 for use in equipment sold to Tier-One network operators.
The SoC is designed to help implement new technologies, which improve cellular radios by increasing their capacity and coverage, while decreasing power consumption and size. The new SoC is equipped to support both 4G and 5G networks simultaneously and aims to improve the capacity and coverage of cellular radios. It is claimed to save up to 70 percent in chipset power consumption compared to previous solutions.
“We are excited to extend our collaboration with Marvell to unveil a new SoC that will combine both companies’ strengths in innovation to advance 5G network solutions,” said Junehee Lee, Executive Vice President and Head of R&D, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics. “Samsung prioritizes the development of high-impact 5G solutions that offer a competitive edge to our operators. We look forward to introducing this latest solution to the market shortly.”
Samsung and Marvell have been working closely to deliver multiple generations of leading network solutions. Last year, the companies announced a collaboration to develop new 5G products, including innovative radio architectures to address the compute power required for Massive MIMO deployments.
“Our collaboration with Samsung spans multiple generations of radio network products and demonstrates Samsung’s strong technology leadership. The joint effort includes 4G and 5G basebands and radios,” said Raj Singh, Executive Vice President of Marvell’s Processors Business Group. “We are again honored to work with Samsung for the next generation Massive MIMO radios which significantly raise the bar in terms of capacity, performance and power efficiency.”
“Marvell and Samsung are leading the way in helping mobile operators deploy 5G with greater speed and efficiency,” said Daniel Newman, Founding Partner at Futurum Research. “This latest collaboration advances what’s possible through SoC technology, giving operators and enterprises a distinct 5G advantage through optimized performance and power savings in network deployments.”
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 fully virtualized RAN and Core to private network solutions and AI-powered automation tools. The company is currently providing connectivity to hundreds of millions of users around the world.
On the network equipment side, Samsung Electronics recently won a 5G contract with Japanese telco NTT DOCOMO, as it seeks to challenge incumbents like Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia in the telecom equipment business, according to media reports.
In India, Samsung Electronics is likely to apply for a production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for telecom equipment manufacturing, benefiting from India’s program to locally make 4G and 5G gear and other equipment – for sales both in India and overseas, ET recently reported.
Samsung would then join other global manufacturers such as Cisco, Jabil, Flex and Foxconn, besides European telecom equipment vendors Nokia and Ericsson in applying for the PLI scheme that seeks to boost local production of telecom equipment and reduce imports.
Samsung Electronics announced on Monday that it has been selected as a 5G network solutions provider for NTT DOCOMO, the leading mobile operator in Japan with 82 million customers. Samsung will support DOCOMO (now wholly owned by NTT Corp.) with its innovative 5G technology, including O-RAN-compliant solutions, to bring enriched 5G services to users, advance digital transformation for businesses, and improve society at large.
As part of its ongoing strategy to deliver an advanced network and provide customers an array of enhanced mobile services, DOCOMO leverages leading edge-technologies in its 5G network.
“As a leading mobile operator, our goal is to provide our customers the best possible services for creating innovative, fun and exciting experiences and finding solutions to social issues,” said Sadayuki Abeta, General Manager of the Radio Access Network Development Department at NTT DOCOMO. “We are excited to collaborate with Samsung for the next phase of 5G Open RAN and accelerate the expansion of our ‘Lightning Speed 5G’ coverage in the nation.”
“We are pleased to be part of DOCOMO’s 5G networks and look forward to continued collaboration in advancing 5G innovation for their customers,” said Satoshi Iwao, Vice President and Head of Network Division at Samsung Electronics Japan. “Our goal is to leverage Samsung’s technical leadership to bring the best network solutions to mobile operators around the world, so they can deliver the next generation of transformative 5G services and electrifying user experiences.”
“The agreement between NTT DOCOMO and Samsung is significant,” said Stefan Pongratz, Vice President at Dell’Oro. “NTT DOCOMO has a history of being at the forefront with new and innovative technologies and this announcement cements Samsung’s position as a major 5G RAN supplier.”
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 fully virtualized RAN and Core to private network solutions and AI-powered automation tools. The company is currently providing connectivity to hundreds of millions of users around the world.
This is the latest in a series of recent contract awarded to Samsung. The company scored its biggest win when it received a $6.6 billion 5G contract from Verizon, replacing Nokia. It got a contract from Canada’s SaskTel earlier this month and is also in talks with European telecom operators to gain a foothold on the continent.
It is supplying 5G RAN to New Zealand’s Spark and last week announced it will be the sole 4G/5G core and RAN supplier to Sasktel. Samsung also supplies 5G RAN and core equipment to SK Telecom and KT in its home market.
NTT DoCoMo already has a broad slate of 5G vendors. Fujitsu supplies RAN equipment, NEC core and edge, Nokia baseband and Ericsson (a major supplier to rival KDDI) supplies RAN optimization. Six weeks after DoCoMo, a founding member of the O-RAN Alliance, unveiled its “5G Open RAN Ecosystem” aimed at “accelerating open RAN introduction to operators” worldwide. Members include NEC, Fujitsu, Mavenir, Intel and Qualcomm which are DoCoMo’s own team of preferred open RAN solution vendors.
IBM, Samsung Electronics and Singapore network operator M1 opened the IBM Industry 4.0 Studio, which will combine advanced 5G connectivity with artificial intelligence, hybrid cloud and edge computing functionalities to make and test innovative Industry 4.0 products for enterprises in Singapore and across the Asia Pacific region.
The Studio simulates operational use cases that demonstrate how businesses can harness the power of hybrid cloud and AI technologies and advanced 5G capabilities to transform critical operations and drive new value – from improving quality and productivity in production lines to empowering service and quality control personnel. The Studio will develop, test and benchmark real-world Industry 4.0 use cases involving autonomous guided vehicles, collaborative robots, 3-D augmented reality, and real-time AI visual and acoustic recognition and classification.
IBM worked with Samsung and M1 to deliver products that take advantage of the ultra-low latency, high reliability, and security of 5G connectivity, combining Samsung’s standalone 5G network products and mobile devices with IBM’s hybrid cloud, edge computing, and AI technologies, as well as M1’s engineering and network services expertise in the designing and integration of 5G SA products and formulation of 5G test cases to meet regulatory requirement.
Built on Red OpenShift, the Industry 4.0 use cases employ IBM’s AI products for visual and acoustic analysis and augmented reality technologies.
Supported by Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority as part of Singapore’s 5G journey, the Studio is hosting the country’s first 5G Industry 4.0 trial, testing real-world applications that can be applied in the manufacturing sector, while measuring and optimising the performance of enterprise 5G for industrial use.
With full-fledged 5G standalone functionality covering at least half of Singapore by end 2022, Singapore will drive more businesses to evaluate the ways in which they can integrate 5G into their existing operations, but they need a way to trial new use cases to evaluate their adoption strategies and return on investment.
The launch is the next step in Samsung and IBM’s global strategic partnership to advance 5G and edge industry innovation through enterprise networks and through cross collaboration with global mobile operators.
“5G presents an enormous opportunity for enterprises to drive new value and transform their operations to harness the next era of industrial connectivity. This project builds on IBM’s longstanding strategic partnership with Samsung, and a shared vision with M1 and IMDA, to help businesses tap into emerging hybrid cloud and AI technologies that will define their future success. It is crucial these businesses have an opportunity to test and evaluate these technological investments, and we are committed to working shoulder to shoulder with them to ensure they make the best decisions that will truly propel their businesses forward,” said Brenda Harvey, General Manager, IBM APAC.
There are seven focus areas being explored via the Studio that could deliver transformative value for customers by applying ultra-low latency, high-bandwidth, stable and secure 5G connectivity to Industry 4.0 applications:
1. Visual Recognition solutions using IBM Maximo Visual Inspection. With 5G, this enables real-time, streaming video analytics to power use cases such as faster identification of defects on the manufacturing line or rapid sorting of parts in a warehouse environment.
2. Acoustic Insights. Applies AI to analyze audio captured by phones and tablets to uncover potential defects in server fans, for example. Combined with 5G, this enables audio streaming and more rapid analysis to enable continuous monitoring in real time.
3. Augmented reality (AR) solution, a collaboration between IBM Singapore and IBM Haifa Research Lab. For example, users can point the camera of their mobile device at equipment and view step-by-step instructions that are superimposed on the image on their screen to walk them through a procedure such as setup, testing, or repair. 5G enables rapid, dynamic access to multiple procedure models, so a technician could browse quickly from step to step without long delays to download new models. If the technician encounters a problem not covered in the procedure model, 5G enables a remote expert to provide real-time, live, peer-to-peer assistance using on-screen AR guidance.
4. Complex use cases for automated guided vehicles and collaborative robots, enabled by the low latency of 5G. For example, a robot arm uses a phone to visually scan an item; the visual is sent to the server, analysed and the result returned; the robot arm then takes action to sort or reject the item based on the Visual Inspection result. The low latency of 5G enables this process to take place in near-real-time, allowing the robot arm to immediately sort or reject parts.
5. AI models developed and deployed on edge servers, with flexibility and dynamic resource scalability via Red Hat OpenShift.
6. Container-based applications with continuous monitoring and automated management, integration, and control of multiple deployed solutions at the edge, via IBM Edge Application Manager.
7. 5G end-to-end solutions and vertical use cases for private networks. Delivering private networks that combine Samsung’s latest 5G end-to-end solutions, including the RAN and the Core, with IBM’s open hybrid cloud technologies. Additionally, exploring new vertical use cases to enable enterprises to adopt emerging technologies crucial to Industry 4.0.
“5G is a potential game changer for Industry 4.0. It is the critical connectivity layer that can enable smart manufacturing. I would like to congratulate IBM for the opening of its 5G-enabled Industry 4.0 studio here in Singapore. It is important for Singapore to be the place where innovative 5G solutions can be developed and deployed globally. A strong 5G ecosystem will provide more opportunities for businesses and our people. We will work with industry to forge ahead with 5G, as we architect Singapore’s digital future,” said Lew Chuen Hong, Chief Executive, IMDA.
“As a forerunner in Singapore’s 5G development, M1 is the first network operator to roll out 5G trials as early as 2018 and has developed more than 15 5G use cases, trials and partnerships – a record in the industry, in the areas of autonomous vehicles, robotics, AI and more. The endless possibilities that 5G SA network can bring to Industry 4.0 manufacturing in Singapore is set to benefit enterprises. M1’s 5G hyper-connectivity, end-to-end network slicing, ultra-low latency, as well as highly reliable and secured communications will enable businesses to work not just faster, more efficiently and securely, but smarter too. The use cases being tested and developed out of this project will help more Singapore businesses to adopt 5G, value-adding to the acceleration of Industry 4.0 and building a vibrant 5G ecosystem for Singapore,” said Manjot Singh Mann, CEO of M1.
KC Choi, Executive Vice President & Global Head of B2B Business, Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics commented, “The opening of the Studio in Singapore is an important milestone in applying 5G-enabled mobile and network solutions with Industry 4.0 capabilities to help transform manufacturing. Mobile and 5G capabilities like these are empowering workers and changing the way factories and warehouses operate, bringing new efficiency and productivity to operations. Samsung is pleased to be collaborating with IBM, IMDA, and M1 in this groundbreaking project to help make 5G a reality for customers.”
A new report, jointly released by IP consulting and analysis companies, Amplified and GreyB, disclosed that the top 6 companies (Huawei, Samsung, LG, Nokia, Ericsson, Qualcomm) account for 64.9% in 18,887 declared patent families. In granted 10,763 declared patent families, 2,893 families have been identified as core SEPs where top 6 companies account for 72.5%.
Huawei was first with 530 patent families and a ratio 18.3%. Nokia and Samsung were ranked No. 2 and No. 3 with 14.6% and 12.9%. respectively.
The report is an update of the previous report “Exploration of 5G Standards and Preliminary Findings on Essentiality” released on May 26, 2020.
Separately, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. announced on March 10th that it has ranked first in 5G Standard Essential Patent (SEP)¹ shares according to a patent essentiality study conducted by IPlytics2, a Berlin-based market intelligence firm comprised of economists, scientists and engineers. The findings were published in IPlytics’ recent report: “Who is leading the 5G patent race? A patent landscape analysis on declared SEPs and standards contributions.”
Samsung also ranked second in two other categories: share of 5G granted3 and active patent4 families5, and share of 5G granted and active patent families with at least one of them granted by the EPO (European Patent Office) or USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office).
Last year, Samsung also led in 5G patents as a result of its research and development of 5G standards and technologies.
the top 10 companies own more than 80% of all granted 5G patent families, while the top 20 own more than 93% of all 5G granted patent families. These numbers confirm that there are only a few major large 5G patent owners, but looking at overall 5G declarations, the IPlytics Platform database identified more than 100 independent companies, which have declared ownership of at least one 5G patent.
The 5G patent family statistics presented in Table 1 are not based on verified SEP families. Neither ETSI nor the declaring companies have published independent assessments of the essentiality or validity of the declared 5G patents. Thus, the 5G patent families presented are only potentially essential. Many well-known SEP studies estimate that between 20% and 30% of all declared patents are essential. However, the essentiality rate differs across patent portfolios. To better understand the essentiality rate across portfolios, IPlytics created a data set of 1,000 5G-declared patent families (EPO/USPTO granted), which independent experts have mapped to 5G specifications. Here, the experts mapped the patents for six hours in a first check and then EPO/USPTO patent attorneys double-checked the mapping for a further three hours.
Table 1. Top 5G patent declaring companies (with >1% share)
|Current Assignee||5G families||5G granted and active families||5G EPO/USPTO granted and active families||5G EPO/USPTO granted and active families not declared to other generations|
|Samsung Electronics (KR)||9.67%||13.28%||15.10%||14.72%|
|LG Electronics (KR)||7.01%||8.7%||10.3%||11.48%|
|CATT Datang Mobile (CN)||3.44%||0.85%||0.46%||0.68%|
|NTT Docomo (JP)||3.18%||1.98%||2.25%||1.9%|
 “A patent that protects technology essential to a standard”, European Commission report – “Setting out the EU approach to Standard Essential Patents”, p1, November 2017.
 “IPlytics derived the “essential rate” by creating a random data set of 1,000 5G-declared patent families (EPO/USPTO granted) and mapping it to 5G specifications.” . Available : https://www.iam-media.com/who-leading-the-5g-patent-race-patent-landscape-analysis-declared-seps-and-standards-contributions
 “a patent that is granted by at least one of patent offices”, IPlytics report – “who is leading the 5G patent race”, p5, November 2019.
 “in active status, which means it has not lapsed, been revoked or expired”, IPlytics report – “who is leading the 5G patent race”, p3, November 2019.
 “a collection of patent applications covering the same or similar technical content”, . Available: https://www.epo.org/searching-for-patents/helpful-resources/first-time-here/patent-families.html