Samsung Networks hit the headlines at MWC in Las Vegas with news of its first major contract with a US cable operator. The Korean vendor will provide 5G connectivity for Comcast across its 600 MHz and CBRS spectrum bands, which will include deployment of its new Strand small cell radio (Exhibit 1), developed specifically for the cable market in conjunction with Comcast.
Samsung Networks – Open RAN/vRAN Leader?
Samsung Networks first entered the mobile infrastructure market, primarily as a 4G network infrastructure vendor, around ten years ago. Since then, it has developed a portfolio of 4G and 5G products, with a major focus on the open RAN/vRAN based market. Counterpoint Research believes that Samsung is the undisputed leader in this emerging market at the present time, having won multi-billion dollar contracts with several major MNOs, including Verizon, Vodafone and most recently Dish.
However, Samsung is not just focused on the emerging open RAN/vRAN market. At the recent MWC event in Las Vegas, the vendor outlined its mobile infrastructure strategy to industry analysts, which encompasses targeting the cable and regional MNO markets in the US (and elsewhere), as well as the private networks market.
Exhibit 1: Samsung’s Strand 2TRx Small Cell Radio
The CBRS Market
The CBRS service provider ecosystem encompasses a diverse set of mobile and fixed operators as well as a host of enterprises and other organizations building their own private networks. Samsung sees opportunities in multiple CBRS markets, including the following:
- Cable Market – cable operators made significant investment in CBRS spectrum back in 2020. However, they are only now starting to build their networks, typically offloading MVNO traffic in selected high-traffic regions, rather than building out nationwide mobile coverage.
- Regional Operators – driven by digital divide stimulus funds from the US government, the rural broadband market will be a major opportunity during the next few years with many regional operators seeking to launch rural FWA services.
- Private Networks – as well as private networks deployed by traditional mobile service providers, Samsung sees opportunities in serving a diverse range of customers in the CBRS band ranging from enterprises, schools and universities to industrial companies involved in energy and utilities, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, etc.
Key Takeaway No. 1: The Disruptive Incumbent
Samsung is a challenger vendor and sees an opportunity to disrupt the status quo. As the smallest of the Big 5 in terms of market share, it has less to lose by introducing open RAN based networks compared to rivals. And in contrast to many smaller, open-RAN only players, its can offer legacy as well as open RAN technology. With its own chip and foundry businesses – plus access to considerable technical and financial resources as part of a $260 billion cap industrial conglomerate – it is regarded as a reliable alternative to Ericsson and Nokia by many MNOs. However, with major rivals expected to launched “similar” products in 2023, the open RAN/vRAN market is set to become much more competitive.
Key Takeaway No. 2: CBRS Early Mover Advantage Paying Dividends
Samsung launched its first FCC-certified CBRS mMIMO radio in July 2019. Since then the vendor has developed an extensive range of CBRS radios, including products developed specifically for the cable and FWA markets. As a result, Counterpoint Research expects Samsung to benefit further from similar opportunities from other cable operators to complement its recent Comcast Xfinity Mobile win.
Buoyed by multi-billion dollar FCC funding, the rural FWA market is likely to be another major opportunity. Although there will be stiff competition from its Nordic rivals (plus some smaller vendors), Counterpoint Research believes that the Korean vendor is also well placed in this market, due primarily to its early mover CBRS advantage and backed by its growing reputation and track record as a reliable alternative to other incumbents in this market.
The complete version of this article, including the full set of key takeaways, is published in the following 5G Vendor Report, available to clients of Counterpoint Research’s 5G Network Infrastructure Service:
Samsung Outlines Mobile Networks Strategy at MWC, Las Vegas
Table of Contents
Key Target Markets
Strand Small Cell Radio
Key Cable & Regional MNO Customers