With the increasing pressure to keep China’s Huawei away from developing 5G networks, it may be time for companies like Japan’s NEC and South Korea’s Samsung to shine.
Washington has also pushed Chinese telecom giant Huawei from building the next generation 5G mobile network, claiming that its equipment could be spied for Beijing.
Huawei has denied the allegations, but US pressure has hinted at it in Britain.
The government had already promised to cut the firm from 5G’s most sensitive “core” elements that have access to personal data, and now insist on plans to end Huawei’s involvement in Britain’s 5G infrastructure by 2023 Are giving
But excluding Huawei is not without challenges, as there are currently only two options in Europe for 5G devices such as antennas and relay mast: Nokia of Finland and Ericsson of Sweden.
Britain has encouraged Washington to form a club of 10 democratic countries that can develop its own 5G technology, but so far there have been very few movements.
“The majority of commercial networks sold in the world come from the big three,” Sylvain Chevalier in charge of telecom at Huawei Consulting, referring to Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson.
“But the world of three is not good for operators, and it will still be worse if it goes below two,” he told AFP.
This is an attractive prospect for telecom companies like Samsung and NEC. But building a successful 5G network is not an easy task.
This is a lesson Samsung has already learned. Despite being a major player in 3G, it found itself unable to compete with the big three on 4G and struggled to win commercial contracts.
“It’s been a challenge for Samsung,” said Darle Schooler, a mobile technology expert at consulting group Omdia.
In building its 5G network, Samsung has so far focused on North America and parts of the Asia-Pacific region.
“So while operators may feel uncertain about the Samsung network, they are much further in the process of global presence than NEC,” Schooler said.
NEC has some advantages, including a partnership with mobile operator Rakuten in Japan.
The firms have already collaborated on 4G networks and are now jointly developing 5G systems.
The Japanese firm is also a leader on underseat cables, fiber optic networks and – thanks to its affiliate netcracker – logistics management software.
“Netcracker has a strong presence with operators in Europe, which could be a real entry point for NEC,” said Stephen Teral, chief telecom analyst at market research firm Lightcounting.
‘A big challenge’
NEC has been told about its contracts for the mobile network, saying only that it is “performing feasibility for many customers and we are engaged in commercial discussions with others”.
The UK government has reportedly asked both NEC and Samsung to participate in the demonstrations as it looks to diversify its 5G options.
And on Thursday, NEC announced a tie-up with the Japanese operator NTT to speed up the development of the 5G network.
Samsung and NEC joined forces two years ago and have launched a joint marketing team to introduce 5G products to the European and Asian markets.
Even now, the road ahead will be difficult, Schooler said.
“I think this is a big challenge for the NEC. It requires more than radio, investing in people who can do systems integration, sales, customer support, network design and engineering,” he said. said.
“Plus NEC will need to build operator confidence that they will support them in five to 10 years as they develop 5G networks.”
Washington has supported the use of non-proprietary technology such as Open RAN in 5G development, hoping it will provide an entry point for US companies.
Such a move would open up opportunities for NEC, helping them “create an economic model that would shake traditional equipment manufacturers,” Chevalier said.