Samsung is working to make moves in the private wireless space, where it’s leveraging partnerships and taking a dual market approach.

The vendor announced a new deal with NTT East to expand private 5G networks in Japan for enterprise customers, starting commercially in the second quarter of 2022.

The collaboration highlights the primary route Samsung is taking, where it aims to complement and support operator customers that want or actively are standing up their own enterprise offerings for private networks, according to Samsung’s Derek Johnston, head of marketing and 5G business. He said the vendor’s been active in that portion of the business, including talks with operators in the U.S. and globally.

Samsung is also pursuing private networks for enterprise with a secondary approach, he told Fierce, for those that want to go through a third-party or system integrator, rather an MNO, to manage or go to market with a dedicated network.

Samsung has been making a name for itself in the networks space with a full stack virtualized RAN platform (including a wide-scale deployment with Verizon and its first live 5G open RAN site with Vodafone in the U.K.) But it is turning to partners when it comes to elements it lacks, like transport and OSS/BSS.

“When you start to get into things like private networks, those become pretty key,” Johnston said.

Last year it teamed up with Ciena to offer their respective 5G products across RAN, core and transport as a pre-integrated solution to service providers and enterprises. More recently Samsung tapped Amdocs as a go-to-market partner for its system integrator and OSS/BSS capabilities, specifically with an eye on private wireless and fixed wireless access.

Amdocs and Samsung already have their first customer, Howard University, where they implemented a private CBRS network, providing connectivity for more than 6,000 students on campus. It’s also an example of Samsung’s secondary approach to private networks.

Johnston said it puts a lot of interest in a relationship such as Amdocs, not only on the integration and OSS/BSS front, but also for the company’s enterprise strength and expertise in specific verticals.

Howard University highlights one area “where they have a solid team in terms of go to market in education and higher ed,” he said, while also pointing to strength in utilities and other sectors. “We are super pleased with the early success there.”

In terms of where Samsung’s focusing private networks attention, Johnston said it’s initially mainly been on markets the company feels are primed and ready to go.

“It’s really been demand, early inquiry, that has led us to what we think is the two leading markets in terms of private network space,” he said, pointing to the U.S. and Japan. “There’s definitely been less movement…in spaces like Europe.”

Most of the non-MNO interest in private networks has been CBRS-based in the U.S., he noted, but networks using licensed spectrum and 5G part of the picture as well.

In Japan the government dedicated spectrum in the 4.8-4.9 GHz range to support local 5G networks, so that enterprises can deploy private 5G without needing to tap traditional mobile networks.  

It’s the spectrum NTT East used to conduct technical verification tests last year with Samsung ahead of the new commercial partnership. Tests involved Samsung outdoor radio units, baseband unit and 5G standalone core, along with HPE software. A key metric was improved uplink performance, which plays a larger role for advanced services like video monitoring, connected drones and automated vehicles.

Samsung first introduced its private 5G network portfolio in October 2021, offering three configurations for compact deployments, mid-sized offerings and large-scale businesses.

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