In a major coup for the Korean firm, Samsung has secured its first significant European network contract by signing a deal to supply 3UK with LTE Radio Access Network (RAN) and 3G/LTE core infrastructure equipment.
As part of the agreement, Samsung will deploy LTE base stations, including all associated systems and network support services. The solution will be trialled by 3UK and Samsung starting in 2012, moving to full deployment and commercialisation in 2013.
For its 3G network, 3UK has a network sharing agreement in place with Everything Everywhere. For its LTE network, 3UK said that it will continue sharing sites with its partner and use the existing backhaul infrastructure in place, but will add Samsung’s equipment onto the existing infrastructure.
Julian Bright, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media’s Networks team, believes that there may be options further down the line to extend sharing arrangements for its LTE network. He explained that LTE networks tend to be deployed gradually, focusing initially on dense urban traffic areas, but said: “I think it’s true to say most operators are deploying standalone LTE networks at this stage. Network sharing is something they would keep under review and, perhaps as costs escalate, it’s something that a lot of them will consider,” he said.
Samsung claims that currently, one in four LTE connections globally are brokered through its LTE infrastructure. It has partnered with operators such as Sprint and MetroPCS in the US, KDDI in Japan and Mobily in Saudi Arabia to help them implement advanced LTE solutions. It now has its sights fixed on the European market.
“We are bringing the full weight of this experience to our deployment with Three UK, and trust this will mark the start of many successful relationships with leading mobile operators based in Europe,” said Youngky Kim, executive VP and GM for the telecommunication systems business at Samsung Electronics.
Bright, however, was unsure of the possibilities for Samsung in the European LTE market.
“I don’t know whether this would be the start of a major push in Europe; time will tell. A lot of European operators are already well advanced with their LTE plans, so what further opportunities there will be in the European LTE market, I don’t know. Nonetheless, this deal is certainly significant for Samsung.”