Fresh off the heels of a partnership announcement last week, Samsung and Amdocs disclosed the deployment of a private CBRS network for Howard University in Washington, D.C.

The installation is providing connectivity for more than 6,000 students on campus. It marks the first deployment highlighting Samsung and Amdocs’ new collaboration for private 4G/5G networks, including for CBRS and fixed wireless applications.

To deliver reliable secure connections, Samsung supplied its 5G-ready 4T4R CBRS radios connected to the vendor’s baseband unit. Amdocs played the role of lead systems integrator, designing the network, integrating infrastructure including RAN, core, transport and security, and handling deployment services. Amdocs also is serving up managed services to operate and maintain the network. As part of the deployment Amdocs worked with small business teams including Matek and WAZ Wireless for consultation and installation support.

Jahmal Cue, senior network and infrastructure manager for Howard University, in the announcement said that the partners were providing end users with a reliable solution for both CBRS and Wi-Fi connectivity.

“The deployment was on schedule and supported the various ‘use cases’ on the campus,” Cue continued. “We look forward to continuing our relationship with Samsung and Amdocs to expand the network.”

The network will augment the main campus Wi-Fi and provide a platform to support Howard University’s Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) for internet and wireless connectivity, according to Howard Interim Chief Information Officer Olga Osaghae.

Howard University turned to a private wireless solution tapping Citizens Broadband Radio (CBRS) spectrum for a network to both enhance digital learning and access, while also increasing network security and reliability.

“We’re pleased that Samsung’s CBRS technology was able to quickly deliver secure and reliable wireless connectivity for the students, faculty and visitors for Howard University,” said Imran Akbar, VP and head of New Business Team for Samsung’s Networks Business, in a statement. “Our CBRS radios have accelerated digital connectivity across industries, and now, working with Amdocs, we look forward to leveraging this versatile technology to help the educational sector benefit from 4G and 5G-ready broadband wireless networks that deliver secure mobility and meet campus needs.” 

Samsung has a portfolio of CBRS products, certified by the OnGo Alliance, including massive MIMO, macro radios and outdoor small cells. When CBRS between 3.5-3.7 GHz became available in the U.S., the band opened spectrum to new users, including enterprises, who can tap frequencies using the General Authorized Access (GAA) portion without the need for a license. CBRS is key mid-band spectrum that has favorable characteristics to provide capacity as well as coverage.

Higher education has been one of the enterprise sectors that’s shown interest and is among the targets for network vendors like Samsung that are looking to capitalize on the private wireless market opportunity. Samsung and Amdocs are also targeting industries of manufacturing and utilities.

On the private wireless momentum front, the market was slightly weaker than expected in 2021 for RAN revenues, according to February report from Dell’Oro Group. However, Dell’Oro VP and analyst Stefan Pongratz said that the downtick wasn’t a sign of demand subsiding, but rather driven by challenges of converting trials into commercial deployments.

“In fact, a string of indicators suggest private wireless activity is firming up not just in China but also in other regions,” Pongratz said.

The firm is still positive on private wireless momentum, projecting total RAN revenues including macro and small cells to more than double between 2021 and 2026. LTE still dominated the private market in 2021, but 5G NR is on track to surpass LTE for private wireless later in the forecast period. Dell’Oro expects 5G NR to approach 3-5% of the total 5G private plus public RAN market by 2026.  

Indeed, Samsung as well as bigger traditional vendors Ericsson and Nokia are all targeting enterprises including through private wireless. During Nokia’s most recent earnings results, the company said enterprise sales growth of 1% in 2021 didn’t meet expectations. However, the Finnish vendor saw “extremely strong order intake” particularly in the second half of the year, setting the stage for 2022.

This week Nokia, alongside partner AggreGateway, delivered a private LTE network using the unlicensed portion of CBRS spectrum for a school district in the rural area of San Joaquin Valley in California

The recent Amdocs and Samsung CBRS campus deployment is an example of the South Korean vendor’s efforts to tap partners as it aims to provide end-to-end support within its network infrastructure business. Samsung has also teamed up with t3 Broadband to provide 4G and 5G-capable CBRS gear and the vendor’s core portfolio to U.S. regional service providers. And it’s collaborating with Ciena to offer the companies’ respective 5G products for transport, radio and core to service providers as a pre-integrated solution.

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