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Samsung Networks lands DoCoMo for 5G open RAN

Samsung Networks has landed yet another major 5G customer.

The South Korean vendor has signed with NTT DoCoMo to supply open RAN and related solutions, the company announced on Monday.

DoCoMo, now a fully-owned subsidiary of NTT Corp, is Japan's biggest cellular operator, with 82 million customers.

Turning Korean: Samsung will supply Japan's NTT Docomo with open RAN kit.  (Source: Christofer Tan on Unsplash)
Turning Korean: Samsung will supply Japan's NTT Docomo with open RAN kit.
(Source: Christofer Tan on Unsplash)

Dell'Oro's vice president, Stefan Pongratz, says the deal "cements Samsung's position as a major 5G RAN supplier."

It is the latest in a series of recent contract wins for Samsung. 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.

In its biggest success to date it displaced Nokia to become the major RAN supplier to Verizon's 5G rollout.

It also supplies 5G RAN and core equipment to SK Telecom and KT in its home market.

Japan doesn't have a formal ban on Chinese vendors, despite its alliance with the US. However, none of the four operators awarded a 5G contract to ZTE and Huawei.

Join the group

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.

Selection of the South Korean vendor comes 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.

The group, whose members include NEC, Fujitsu, Mavenir, Intel and Qualcomm, is DoCoMo's own team of preferred open RAN solution vendors available to jointly supply operators worldwide.


Want to know more about open RAN? Check out our dedicated open RAN channel here on Light Reading.


For now at least, this group doesn't appear to have any room for Samsung, although it is probably better qualified than NEC and Fujitsu as an open RAN supplier.

DoCoMo did not elaborate on Samsung's role.

Sadayuki Abeta, general manager of NTT DoCoMo's RAN development department, said: "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."

Samsung said its performance in Q4 2020 had improved as a result of 5G expansion in South Korea and 4G/5G business expansion overseas.

A unit inside Samsung Electronics' IT and mobile division, Samsung Networks doesn't break out its financial numbers, but said in 2021 its focus would remain on 5G network rollouts offshore, including North America and Japan.

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Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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