Samsung makes infrastructure headway

Daryl Schoolar/Ovum
OvumWhen one thinks of Samsung, wireless infrastructure is not the first thing that comes to mind. Samsung is much more associated with handsets, consumer devices, and appliances than it is with cellular base stations, but it is clearly working hard to change that. Over the last several years Samsung has been quietly gaining market traction in the wireless infrastructure space.
Based on information supplied by the vendor and other public sources, we believe the company now has eight commercial LTE contracts. Furthermore, if Clearwire gets the needed funding for its LTE network, Samsung will be part of that build since it is one of the operator’s existing Wimax base station vendors.
In fact, as Wimax operators in general look to LTE as a long-term network solution, Samsung’s network incumbency with many of those operators should prove to be a benefit.
Sure, other vendors have more commercial LTE wins than Samsung, but for a company that wasn’t much of an entity in the 3G universe, these wins do show that 4G, and LTE in particular, has provided Samsung with a new opportunity in the base station market.
Two recent wins stand out. First, Samsung’s work with Sprint on Network Vision shows the company’s ability to participate in a challenging build where multimode (CDMA/LTE) support in a single spectrum band is required. Second, and possibly just as impressive, is Samsung’s small cell LTE win with KDDI in Japan.
What makes this project stand out is not just the scale of the deployment, which is reported to be in the range of tens of thousand of small cells, but the fact Samsung isn’t a macro cell provider to KDDI. This shows that the vendor can make its small cell solution work with other third-party macro vendors, allowing Samsung to gain entry into markets where it isn’t the incumbent macro provider.