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With expanding RAN market share, Samsung updates 5G vRAN portfolio

As it continues to gain 5G infrastructure market share, Samsung this week announced a virtualized 5G RAN solution comprising virtualized central and distributed units and updated radios. And in keeping with the RAN vendor trend toward “open,” Samsung said the new vRAN solution will work with radio interfaces developed within the O-RAN Alliance.

Samsung said the 5G vRAN solution, which runs on generic x-86 hardware, will be available this quarter. The vCU component was commercialized in April last year and is in commercial use in Korea, Japan and the United States. The vendor is planning to trial the vDU in North America later this year.

Open RAN is a red hot topic in telecom at the moment with hardware and software vendors driving a narrative of fostering competition and innovation while breaking lock-in and lowering costs through disaggregation. While a virtual RAN can be made open with the integration of open radio interfaces, a virtual RAN can also be a proprietary kit.

Samsung’s latest ticks both boxes. Alok Shah, vice president of networks strategy, told RCR Wireless News, “Samsung is a leader in open RAN, and as an active contributor to standards groups like 3GPP and O-RAN Alliance, we have achieved open fronthaul interoperability with multiple vendors…and for multiple operator networks. Our fully virtualized RAN solution supports our growing portfolio of O-RAN-compliant radio solutions.”

Samsung is growing its share of global networks business with Tier 1 deals in the U.S., Canada, Korea, Japan and New Zealand. There’s also news this week from Rosenblatt analyst Ryan Koontz who, according to Seeking Alpha, said Verizon could replace Nokia with Samsung for 5G RAN equipment. The report said Koontz “estimates the contract at $1.5B per year for five to seven years.”

On the 5G vRAN solution, Samsung said it conducted internal testing in April using the virtualized kit and dynamic sharing spectrum software, which allows 4G and 5G transmissions to share the same band at the same time with software analyzing UE demand and dynamically provisioning appropriate access. From a press release, the “results matched the performance of legacy hardware baseband.”

“Samsung’s 5G vRAN validates a software-based alternative to vendor-specific hardware, while offering high performance, flexibility and stability,” Samsung’s EVP and Head of R&D, Networks Business Jaeho Jeon said in a statement. “Once the solution becomes commercially available this quarter, we look forward to providing carriers with additional architectural options for building innovative and open 5G networks.”

Nokia made an announcement around virtual and open RAN the same; read about that here.

Reflecting on Samsung’s announcement in a new column, Tantra Analyst Founder and Principal Prakash Sangam noted Samsung’s growing RAN business and commented, “When such a strong player adopts a new trend, the industry will take notice. Until now, the vRAN vendor ecosystem consisted primarily of smaller disruptive players…Nokia, another major legacy vendor, recently announced its 5G vRAN offerings as well…Samsung’s announcement makes vRAN much more real, and [the]future that much brighter. Also Samsung, being a challenger, has much more to gain with vRAN than its legacy competitors.”

-RCR Wireless

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