This pair of Three pairsSamsungThe commitment raises doubts: Experts say an operator that builds a "non-independent" 5G network must buy 4G and 5G operating equipment from the same supplier to avoid interoperability issues.
But Three has now confirmed to Light Reading that it isHUAWEIThe contract includes replacing Samsung's 4G network and installing new 5G devices. "Through Huawei's project, we are replacing Samsung's 4G and deploying 5G," said Mike Eales, director of Three's network services strategy and architecture. "In a non-stand-alone situation, 4G supports 5G, so it must be the same supplier. You can't use different suppliers.
Given the security concerns surrounding the company, a heavy reliance on Huawei could be risky. American hardliners saw it as a gateway for Chinese spies and pressed European governments to ban the use of the technology in their 5G market.
The UK government is currently conducting a supply chain review to determine whether Huawei should be excluded from part or all of the country's 5G network.
Three operates on the assumption that any ban will be limited to the core part of the network, that is, routing traffic and the central part of the network that includes important IT systems. Its main core network provider is Nokia, Finland.
Shaun Smith, director of the Three 5G project, said that the National Network Security Center (NCSC), which is responsible for security matters, was fully involved in Three's procurement process and that any decision affecting RAN would be "unusual".
"This will damage all operators in the UK in a very similar way," he said. He points out that other UK service providers are also heavily dependent on Huawei's mobile devices. "It's worth remembering that in our topology, our new core is Nokia, which is where all intelligence lies. The radio suite is in operation, which is under the supervision of NCSC.
Considering the trouble and cost of replacing one supplier with another, it is not easy to switch from Samsung to Huawei. Vodafone UK has previously said that replacing Huawei's 4-G devices (about 6,000 of its 18,000 mobile sites use 4-G devices) would cost "hundreds of millions of pounds" and slow down the launch of 5G services in the face of a total ban on 5G networks.
All this shows that Huawei's bid for the RAN contract is very competitive, while Three's executives are not satisfied with Samsung's 5G capabilities.
But senior chief analyst Gabriel Brown said the move was not surprising. In an interview with Light Reading, he said: "Samsung is not really committed to the European market, so when the three companies bid, it is inevitable to be replaced." Samsung's equipment is good, but European operators want local support and supply chains, and it's not big enough on the 4G network to make this investment worthwhile. In addition, the service life of this device is very long, and Samsung's equipment has almost come to an end.
Three plans to launch mobile 5G services in the fourth quarter of this year, and to start business in 25 towns by the end of 2019. Three has about 167,700 mobile sites across the UK.
The company estimates that its vast spectrum reserve, the acquisition of UK Broadband in 2017 with 250 million pounds ($316 million), will enable it to provide 5G services faster and more reliable than its competitors can support. In a recent test in central London, its average download speed on the 5G network increased from 25 megabits per second on the 4G network to 138 megabits per second.
The company plans to launch a 5g-based fixed wireless access (FWA) residential broadband service and new intelligenceMobile phoneService: FWA service will be launched in August.
At the end of May, BT's EE business launched commercial services in parts of the UK, becoming the first 5G operator in the UK. Like the third company, Huawei uses 5G devices to support these services, but in less populous areas, it also relies on Nokia as an operator.
Vodafone will launch its 5G service on July 3. The company lists Ericsson and Huawei as its main operators, and Ericsson will take a larger share of the operator business. Earlier this year, Telefonica's O2 also announced plans to launch 5G services by the end of 2019.