KDDI taps Samsung to enable mid-band 5G net spectrum

Latest part of technology partnership between Japanese operator and Korean comms tech firm sees advances in RAN technology to support accelerated 5G network roll-out in key spectrum range

Samsung Electronics is to deploy its cloud-native, fully virtualised radio access network (vRAN) solutions in the 5G network of Japanese operator KDDI working in the key mid-band spectrum, which will be the premium frequency band to demonstrate the benefits of 5G applications and use cases for the short to mid-term.

With a 60-year history and more than 58 million customers, KDDI offers both mobile and fixed-line communications services throughout Japan and has mobile services and shops through its au brand. It is expanding its services into the life design business, which includes e-commerce, fintech, nationwide electric power utility services, entertainment and education.

KDDI said that going forward, it is focusing on creating smart infrastructure through internet-of-things (IoT) technologies and open innovation with partners and startup companies in diverse industries. It is accelerating the global growth of its telecoms consumer business with operations in Myanmar and Mongolia, and in the global ICT business with the Telehouse brand.

Samsung and KDDI have already been collaborating on advanced research on vRAN to drive 5G innovation for KDDI’s network and, most recently, the companies successfully completed the first 5G standalone call using Samsung’s vRAN and another supplier’s 5G Massive MIMO radios, which are compliant with technology adhering to standards set to the O-RAN Alliance.

Virtualised networks will play a key role in supporting KDDI’s pursuit of new 5G use cases and next-generation capabilities. In 2020, Samsung and KDDI demonstrated how 5G end-to-end network slicing could play a key role for mobile operators by enabling the creation of multiple virtual networks within a single physical network infrastructure.

“We are delighted to extend our collaboration with Samsung and to become the first operator in Japan to use their 5G vRAN solutions, which are currently delivering superior performance in commercial networks,” said Kazuyuki Yoshimura, CTO at KDDI. “We believe in the power of virtualisation, and this collaboration serves as a meaningful catalyst for driving the next phase of 5G innovation and advancing our networks to offer best-in-class 5G services.”

Powered by its vRAN, Samsung said KDDI’s 5G network will deliver “exceptional performance, enabling KDDI users to experience the full potential of 5G”, adding that it is bringing a range of improvements to KDDI’s network.

By replacing dedicated baseband hardware with software elements, vRAN offers more deployment flexibility, greater scalability and improved resource efficiency in network operation, it said. With its cloud-native, container-based architecture, Samsung said its vRAN also simplifies end-to-end network management through automation, allowing operators to introduce new services quickly with minimal impact on deployment.

Woojune Kim, executive vice-president, head of global sales and marketing, networks business at Samsung Electronics, said: “With commercially proven performance and reliability, our vRAN is an attractive technology option for operators – from both the deployment and operational perspectives. We are excited to mark another milestone with KDDI, following prior network collaborations that include the commercialisation of 5G in 2020, and the roll-out of 700MHz 5G in 2021. We look forward to our ongoing work with KDDI to bring new 5G innovations to their customers.”

Samsung and KDDI will begin trials in the first quarter of 2022, and will start commercial deployment in the second half of next year.

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