Samsung’s presence as a mobile network equipment vendor holds a relatively low profile in Europe, but it has hardly been idle elsewhere. It has major LTE roll outs in the US, Asia and the Middle East and it is eyeing up the coming LTE expansion in Europe with relish.
The company is promoting its Smart LTE networks capability as the way for operators to manage the huge volumes of mobile data traffic efficiently by using an advanced air resource allocation technology with centralised control. The technology went live earlier this year and is in use in Seoul, South Korea
Samsung’s SmartMBS (multi-standard base station) is already in use in Korea and the US, while at this year’s congress, the company demonstrated its Mobile Contents Delivery Network (MCDN) which reduces backhaul bandwidth usage and improves the quality of service.
IP Hong, VP Head of Marketing Group for Telecom Systems Business, told Wireless: ‘Our LTE offering to the market has already field proven different types of base stations and core network products in the USA, Japan and Korea. We are a major vendor in those areas of the world where LTE is being used. We have a real experience in dynamic mobile broadband rather than portable and nomadic.’
Hong says that Sprint in the USA is Samsung’s biggest customer. The company won six out of 14 markets including Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and Pennsylvania, where it is providing an FD-LTE and CDMA solution, although a TD-LTE solution may follow. In fact, Samsung claims the USA’s first commercial LTE deployment in the shape of Metro PCS (a mobile fibre operator), which began commercial activity in September 2010, beating both Verizon and AT&T.
‘We are contracted to supply small LTE base stations with KDDI, the second largest mobile operator in Japan,’ says Hong. KDDI is an old customer as Samsung has supplied CDMA 2G and 3G equipment to it for last 10 years. It is now adding outdoor and indoor LTE small cell base stations. Hong says it is the world’s first commercially available small cell LTE base stations contract.
In its home country of Korea, Samsung began a commercial LTE roll out in July 2011 with the first LTE smartphone devices introduced in August. ‘Within seven months there were two million LTE subscribers in Korea,’ says Hong.
He adds: ‘We are monitoring the performance of the network in Seoul and it is supporting 20-30Mbps per user from mobile operator SK Telecom in the 800MHz band. We are also supplying Samsung Smart LTE Networks equipment in the 1.8MHz band for KT (Korea Telecom as was) which launched commercially in January 2012. It is a real differentiator providing much more capacity. We are also providing an LTE system to LG Uplus, so it is the most dynamic LTE market.’
But now Samsung is turning its attention to Europe as new commercial LTE licenses are awarded. It established a European Network Operations last year. ‘We’ve had many discussions with European global mobile operators and have a trial with one multi-national European based operator. We expect commercial deals later this year or next year based on license availability,’ says Hong.
‘We estimate that Samsung is already a top three LTE system vendor this year, but our aim is to be a top three wireless infrastructure vendor by 2015 – this is our ambition,’ says Hong, firing a warning shot to other equipment vendors.
In the meantime, Samsung boosted its credentials by announcing at Mobile World Congress that it has a deal to provide Smart LTE solutions to Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), a leading operator and wireless broadband provider in the Middle East and North Africa. The Mobily deal comprises 1,000 LTE base stations and all associated systems and network support services. The two companies have already worked together to introduce the world’s first TD-LTE network in Saudi Arabia in 2011.
Managed support services is an area Samsung is not strong in yet, but it is one it intends to grow. ‘Our competitors are strong here, but we are catching up to provide end-to-end network services, network equipment, a strong financial approach, small cell and macro cells, plus devices – so we think we are unique in the market,’ says Hong.
At MWC, Samsung showcased its advanced 4G LTE line up and also unveiled Voice over LTE with Smart LTE Network technology. ‘It is a much smoother handover from one base station to another at the cell edge, so we have much more gain to produce a higher capacity of VoLTE. Voice implementation at the cell edge is not so good for LTE, but we now have a solution,’ says Hong.
It also unveiled its MCDN (mobile content delivery network) service platform. ‘Our intelligent base station provides a great LTE performance and a service platform,’ says Hong. ‘What the MCDN service platform does is reduce the amount of backhaul usage on the network. Instead, the base station stores some content from the server, so the end users communicating with that base station do not have to go beyond it [i.e. do not have to wait for the information request to go back to the core and out again].
‘The base station has a server to provide the entire content delivery to utilize the wireless area, but not beyond it. The base station caches the information, so the user gets a much better response time and the operator a greater reduction in backhaul usage.’
Finally, Hong cites the Smart MBS (Multi-standard Base Station) as one of the other strengths in its current equipment line up. ‘It supports LTE, HSPA+ and GSM in one single RAN platform. Three operators are already using this in the US and Korea and now European operators are expecting us to provide single RAN solutions too.’
Samsung may be a bit of a dark horse in Europe at the moment, but it is certainly intent on making its presence felt here in 2012 and beyond.