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Samsung would ‘welcome’ opportunity to help build UK’s 5G

Speaking during the unveiling of the latest range of Samsung devices, an executive said that the company would be interested in providing 5G equipment to assist with the rollout of the UK’s next-generation wireless network.

Speaking at the virtual product launch event, Samsung UK and Ireland VP Conor Pierce said that Samsung had enough experience with 5G technology to be able to help with the UK's 5G rollout. He said that Samsung would “welcome the opportunity” to get involved.

“We are still at the forefront of 5G. I think we’re one of the very few companies that can offer an end-to-end 5G solution from chips to network infrastructure to devices, which puts us in a very unique position,” Pierce told the PA news agency. “And we’ve seen great success in our 5G network infrastructure business in the US and also in Korea.”

“Obviously, with the news the UK government announced regarding our competitor [Huawei], this is a huge opportunity for Samsung and, of course, I would welcome the opportunity to fast-track the UK back on track to drive a very strong 5G rollout.”

According to Pierce, Samsung has over 90 per cent market share for 5G mobile devices. Some rival smartphone manufacturers, including Apple, are yet to launch 5G handsets. He said that Samsung encourages its competitors to keep up with innovation in this area.

During the virtual unveiling, Samsung revealed a range of new 5G-compatible devices. They include the Galaxy Note 20 phones, which hover around the $1,000 mark; Tab S7 tablets; a new smartwatch; new wireless earbuds, and a luxurious new folding phone (Galaxy Z Fold 2).

With Shenzhen-based Huawei Technologies ousted from the UK’s 5G ecosystem following the government's recent U-turn, there remain just two alternative major suppliers of 5G equipment: Ericsson and Nokia. Lawmakers in the UK have noted their concern at dwindling competition in the sector and have expressed interest in Samsung – which has a very limited presence in UK mobile networks – becoming a more significant player in this sector.

During a Commons Science and Technology Select Committee hearing in July, Samsung VP Woojune Kim said that the company could “definitely” supply a new standalone 5G network to UK network operators. However, Kim said that there are some barriers which prevent it from competing in this space at present, including the complication of supporting legacy (2G, 3G, 4G) wireless technology and allegedly aggressive bidding from Huawei, which undercuts the market.

Despite dire warnings from certain quarters that any restrictions on using Huawei's 5G equipment will be detrimental to the UK’s networks, pushing the country into the "digital slow lane", the majority of IT professionals do not believe the ban will cause significant long-term damage, according to a recent survey of 3,000 IT professionals conducted by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT.

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