Samsung Electronics will launch a new full-virtualized 5G Radio Access Network (vRAN) solution within the third quarter of the year, the company said.
The company’s 5G vRAN consists of a virtualized Central Unit (vCU), a virtualized Distributed Unit (vDU), and a wide range of radio units to enable a smooth migration to 5G, Samsung said.
It will continue to conduct vDU field trials in North America in the second half of this year, it said.
Last month, rival Nokia made a similar announcement with its own vRAN 2.0.
Samsung’s 5G vCU was first commercialized in April 2019 and is currently in commercial use by mobile carriers in Japan, South Korea, and the US. It is being used by South Korean telcos SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus as well as US carriers AT&T and Verizon. Japanese telco KDDI is also using the vCU.
This new solution adds the vDU in addition to the vCU to deliver a fully-virtualized 5G vRAN.
The company’s new vRAN solution can reduce maintenance costs by moving to a COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) x86-based platform, while matching the reliability of a traditional RAN, Samsung said.
COTS x86-based servers are standard and readily available computing elements from a large supplier ecosystem. Operators use them today for a range of IT needs. When combined with Samsung's virtualized 4G and 5G cores, the operator will be able to implement an end-to-end software-based radio and core network running on COTS x86 servers, the South Korean firm said.
Samsung v Nokia in open RAN
Meanwhile, South Korea standardized open-RAN-based 5G fronthaul interface last month. Fronthaul refers to the data transfer between the DU and the radio unit (RU).
Main telecom equipment makers has not opened their fronthaul interface so far, making it impossible to connect the DU with RU made by other middle-sized companies. An open fronthaul interface will allow DU and RU made with the same standard to be connected irrelevant of the manufacturers. Samsung and Nokia has been especially active fostering the open RAN ecosystem.
Japanese telco Rakuten has previously said it will make the world’s first end-to-end cloud native wireless network. It is using Intel’s Xeon processor and accelerator while getting the small cell from Qualcomm for its network. Server is being supplied by Quanta, Altiostar is providing the wireless telecom solulition and Cisco the core network software.
According to Dell’Oro, in the first quarter of the year, Huawei controlled 35.7% market share in 5G telecom equipment, followed by Ericsson’s 24.6%, Nokia’s 15.8% and Samsung’s 13.2%. ZTE came in fifth with 9.3%.
Last month, Nokia announced its vRAN 2.0-based 5G AirScale Cloud RAN. The Finnish company said it had newly added a fronthaul gateway and vDU to its RAN solution.
According to people familiar with the matter, Samsung is estimated to have a 10% market share in the US, and is attempting to takeover the shares of Nokia. Meanwhile, Huawei and Ericsson are showing less interesting in open RAN compared to their followers.