Samsung prepares for 4G LTE roll out in Southeast Asia

Veronica C. Silva | Sept. 27, 2011
Field trials and pilots this year are expected to turn into commercial rollout by 2012.

As Southeast Asian operators start to commercially roll out the next generation of wireless connectivity in the region, South Korea's Samsung Electronics is showcasing its 4G LTE solutions as more operators are planning their commercial rollout in the coming months.

4G LTE (long-term evolution) is considered the next step in the race for faster connectivity. For many years now, operators in Southeast Asia, and even around the Asia Pacific region, have been conducting field trials in preparation for commercial offering.

Already, Singapore's M1 and the Philippines' Smart Communications have started offering LTE this year. But more operators have announced plans to roll out before the end of the year or next year. 

Samsung said it is working with Asian operators to help them with their field trials and pilots. However, the company didn't name which operators it is working with.

LTE solutions

At the recently concluded 6th LTE Asia conference in Singapore, Samsung showcased its range of 4G LTE products for macro and small cells. Samsung said its "smart LTE solutions allow flexible deployments in any environment and provide a solution to mobile service providers who are facing increased growth in data traffic as a result of the rapid uptake in smart phones and tablet PCs."

The company considers the Asian region important for their business.  

"Asia is one of the most dynamic and passionate telecommunication markets; the demand for mobile broadband services is such that we expect it to account for more than 30 percent of global mobile data traffic," said Youngky Kim, executive vice president and general manager, telecommunication systems business, Samsung Electronics.

"We strongly believe that Samsung can play a key role in making Asia a centre of mobile broadband culture using LTE, based on our advanced technology, unbeatable OFDMA (Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing) experiences and excellent understanding of the market," he added.

Key players

But Samsung is not alone in trying to grab a piece of the action in the region.

M1 has chosen Huawei while a host of other suppliers have announced their participation in other field trials and pilots in the region.

Aside from Huawei and Samsung, analysts interviewed by MIS Asia said the other players in the region are Ericsson and Nokia-Siemens Networks. However, analysts do not consider Samsung a major player in the region.

"Samsung will continue to compete in the region but is unlikely to be a leader with significant market share," said Mark Koh, senior industry analyst for ICT, Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific, in an e-mail to MIS Asia. "Ericsson is the clear leader in this market space, and Huawei (has a) pretty strong presence in the region." Alcatel-Lucent, on the other hand, has a more significant presence outside Asia, Koh added.

WiMAX migration

The assessment is shared by Shiv Putcha, principal analyst, emerging markets, Ovum.

Putcha told MIS Asia: "Samsung has a solid mobile infrastructure offering for LTE but this is largely a result of their legacy in WiMAX. The major players in the LTE field are Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia-Siemens Networks. ... Samsung's offering promises a smooth migration from WiMAX to LTE but so far, they haven't got a lot of traction beyond the erstwhile WiMAX operators."

Samsung said it has made strides to bring mobile broadband to the region with mobile WiMAX. It also named LTE partners outside Southeast Asia. 

"Samsung plans to launch the industry's first LTE SmallCell solution in Japan in 2012 and the world's first TD-LTE network in Saudi Arabia in Q3 2011. Samsung is driving the industry forward as one of the most influential network solution providers holding the most positions in the 3GPP and having a significant amount of IPR related to 4G OFDMA technology."

Aside from commercial deployments in Southeast Asia, the other commercial deployments in the region are in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and soon, Australia.