When Verizon extended its national 5G service last month, it notably became the first operator to deploy Samsung’s 5G virtualized RAN, the provider said Thursday.
Samsung’s 5G vRAN kit debuted in July, adding a virtualized distributed unit (vDU) to its virtualized central unit (vCU) so that the entire baseband is virtualized, along with a range of radio units. With the vRAN architecture, software elements can run on standard x86 servers (COTS) instead of dedicated hardware.
Verizon’s expansion in December raised its nationwide lower-band 5G coverage to 24 million more people, for a total of 230 million. It included areas of central Texas, Tulsa, upstate New York, and New England. Samsung is Verizon’s RAN provider in parts of upstate New York and New England, a spokesperson confirmed.
Samsung struck a $ 6.6 billion 5G network deal with Verizon last year, and the first implementation of its vRAN kit by a major US carrier is significant on several fronts.
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“This is certainly a very important deployment for Samsung and for the RAN industry,” said Ed Gubbins, senior analyst at Global Data.
vRAN is an alternative to legacy Radio Access Networks (RANs) where radio network functions are typically tied to vendor specific hardware. The promoters cited advantages such as greater flexibility and scalable deployments, as well as the potential for increased competition and choice of suppliers for operators. Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia dominate the RAN market, with Samsung entering markets such as the United States, Canada and New Zealand.
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Samsung previously said validation testing of its 5G vRAN showed the move to x86 COTS servers matched the reliability of a traditional RAN. However, as Gubbins noted, there are still debates and skeptics as to whether vRAN can withstand traditional RAN performance.
“A major operator like Verizon rolling [vRAN] out is import proof of real-world operators’ commitment and belief in the performance and value of vRAN, ”Gubbins told Fierce.
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Additionally, more deployments of vRAN by major carriers could also encourage other carriers to embrace the idea, he said, and the more carriers like Verizon roll out vRAN, this offers the possibility of knowing. more on real-world performance compared to traditional RANs and better inform the ongoing industry debate.
“Additionally, the deployment could help accelerate the maturity of vRAN technology, make it better, and potentially help improve this performance equation,” he said.
Besides Verizon being a major operator in a key market, Gubbins says the rollout gives credit to Samsung’s strategy, which differs from that of major RAN vendors.
“Samsung is almost unique among the major RAN vendors in trying to use vRAN as a competitive advantage,” he noted.
Huawei and ZTE aren’t jumping on the vRAN wagon, Gubbins pointed out, and Ericsson didn’t announce until last October that it would offer a RAN cloud, with the first step only available in the fourth quarter of this year. Nokia has said its second-generation 5G RAN cloud will be widely available in 2021 and is in the process of building a suite of interfaces defined to open-RAN to work with its existing RAN portfolio, which will be available at some point this year. .
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The Verizon rollout “shows that Samsung’s competitive differentiation strategy is working,” Gubbins said.
Samsung also benefits from the deep pockets of its leading electronics brand and its expertise in 5G hardware chipsets, including the SoC modem.
Verizon also uses Samsung’s dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) technology and has chosen the provider for 5G mmWave indoor sites.
“Verizon is committed to providing customers with the most advanced technology in the industry,” Bill Stone, Verizon vice president of planning and technology, said in a statement. “We continue to push the boundaries of innovation in 5G, and deploying virtualization across our network from core to edge is another way to make our network more scalable and programmable to deliver on the many promises of 5G. “