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6 December 2022

Samsung adds Open RAN radios in four new bands to its Docomo deal

Samsung has expanded its Open RAN relationship with Japan’s NTT Docomo, despite Docomo’s long-standing and very close partnership with NEC, another prominent supplier of Open RAN radios.

Samsung is already providing the largest Japanese MNO with 3.4 GHz radio units and has now added contracts for equipment in 3.7 GHz, 4.5 GHz and 28 GHz bands. Together, these make up all the TDD bands (many very specific to Japan in their band-plan) that Docomo currently plans to use for 5G.

The companies said they have been testing the interoperability of these new radios with basebands from various vendors in Docomo’s commercial network environment.

“We have been collaborating with Samsung since the beginning of 5G and through our Open RAN expansion, and we are excited to continue extending our scope of vision together,” said Masafumi Masuda, general manager of the operator’s RAN development department, in a statement. “Solidifying our global leadership, we will continue to build momentum around our Open RAN innovation and to provide highly scalable and flexible networks to respond quickly to the evolving demands of our customers.”

Satoshi Iwao, head of the network division at Samsung Electronics Japan, said that Japanese cities are some of the most densely populated in the world, with many skyscrapers and complex infrastructure, so compact, lightweight radio units (RUs) were essential.

Samsung’s latest 28 GHz RU, which was unveiled at the same time as the Docomo announcement, and will be part of the new contract, weighs under 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds) and has a compact form factor and very low power consumption, said the vendor.

Despite its choice of Samsung to supply a rising percentage of its Open RAN, Docomo chose its old allies NEC and Fujitsu as the first partners in its 6G development process, along with Nokia.