Space may be the final frontier, but for telecoms operators it is a pressing concern, particularly those based in countries where land comes at a premium, most notably the UK. Enter Samsung, which has introduced its first all-in-one antenna and radio unit for the European market.
Introduced at the company's Samsung Networks: Redefined shindig, the One Antenna Radio incorporates a 3.5GHz Massive MIMO radio unit with several passive antennas tuned for mid and low-band spectrum.
These components are usually two distinct elements within a RAN. By consolidating them into a single unit, Samsung said it will allow carriers to more efficiently use limited space, thanks to its simpler cabling and smaller physical footprint.
As it uses higher frequencies, 5G typically requires more base stations than older standards (such as LTE) to produce the same level of coverage, so carriers have been forced to densify their RAN estates, with towers popping up on top of buildings or by the sides of roads.
As for Samsung's unit, the Korean firm claimed it would reduce operational expenditures, reducing the amount of time spent on installation and maintenance.
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The unit supports spectrum in the coveted 3GHz C-band and under, which is the predominant space used within the European market. Although mmWave is likely to make its debut in the coming years, it remains far on the horizon, particularly in Britain, where suitable spectrum has not yet been identified for auction by Ofcom.
Samsung has traditionally held a limited share of the European market, which has been dominated by Ericsson, Nokia, and Huawei. In the face of an increasing urgency to diversify the network supply chain, this is gradually changing, demonstrated by Vodafone's recent decision to deploy OpenRAN across its estate in Wales and the South East of England.
Samsung (along with NEC) was one of the suppliers selected by Vodafone to provide radio units, marking its 5G radio debut in the UK's network sector.
The launch of this radio would help sustain this momentum as Samsung tries to capitalise on the ongoing 5G rollout, as well as the push by governments and carriers alike to remove Huawei from existing networks. The company said it aims to start shipping units by 2022. ®