Samsung has been expanding its network infrastructure business in Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, the UK, and the US ever since Huawei and ZTE were being forced out of network deployment contracts due to security concerns. However, the South Korean firm has been reportedly struggling to expand its network business in India and has started slashing its workforce.
After ending its exclusive tie-up with Reliance Jio, India’s biggest cellular network, Samsung Networks is looking to expand its business. However, it will likely face challenges from older carriers like Airtel, BSNL, and Vodafone Idea despite the ban on Chinese network gear in the country. According to industry insiders, the South Korean firm initiated talks to supply 4G and 5G network equipment with older telcos, but those discussions didn’t yield any results.
Airtel recently awarded its network contracts to Ericsson and Nokia to replace existing Huawei gear. Samsung is looking to partner with an Indian IT firm to bid for BSNL’s LTE network contract for over 50,000 sites. The Indian government-owned telco is considering a multi-vendor system integrator model for its network contracts.
Samsung has slashed its workforce in the network business
While Samsung is exploring new business opportunities, it is being reported that it has laid off several hundred third-party employees in the country that were involved in Reliance Jio’s network contract. Reliance Jio is focusing on developing in-house 5G technology on the software side, and it might still need Samsung’s help in the 5G network hardware segment.
Airtel, BSNL, and Vodafone Idea are looking to deploy single-RAN radio equipment that could support 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. However, Samsung is reportedly trying to convince the operators to turn off legacy networks and switch to 4G + 5G RANs. Single-RAN BTS is cheaper for the carriers, and choosing Samsung’s 4G+5G RAN and buying more network gear for 2G and 3G networks from other network vendors will end up being costly.
There could be light at the end of the tunnel for Samsung, though. In the coming years, when carriers start offering 5G networks in India, the South Korean firm’s business could expand. Currently, Huawei has the highest market share in the 5G segment, with a market share of 35.7%. Ericsson and Nokia have a market share of 24.8% and 15.8%, respectively. Samsung is fourth in the segment with a market share in the 5G network segment is 13.2%.