The Korean electronics giant has a limited presence in the mobile equipment market but has big ambitions for 5G, hoping to secure 20 per cent of the market by 2020. It has seen strong demand in its native South Korea as well as from US operators who are banned from working with Huawei.
Samsung executive vice president Woojune Kim told MPs on the Commons Science and Technology that it could “definitely” supply UK operators and that the firm was focusing its resources on 4G, 5G and 6G rather than legacy technologies like other vendors.
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Samsung 5G kit
In January, the UK confirmed that Huawei could play a role in the rollout of 5G. The new rules effectively preserved the status quo by banning Huawei kit from the core layer of the network but permitting the use of the firm’s radio gear, subject to a 35 per cent cap.
However there is growing speculation that this decision could be reversed and operators would be forced to remove Huawei equipment from their infrastructure.
Such a move would be highly disruptive. Operators argue it would cause delays to the rollout of 5G, increase costs and lower innovation – ultimately harming consumers and businesses and the UK’s post-coronavirus, post-Brexit economy.
In any case, there are doubts over Ericsson and Huawei’s ability to make up the shortfall. Both the US and UK governments have identified Samsung as a way of diversifying the pool of suppliers in the Radio Access Network (RAN) market.
Reports have also suggested that Britain is eager for NEC to get involved. NEC is a key supplier of Radio Access Network (RAN) technology for operators in Japan but has a limited presence outside of its homeland.
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.