Samsung passes ZTE in growing RAN market

Samsung sign
Samsung is now the world's fourth-largest equipment vendor. (Monica Alleven/FierceWireless)

According to new figures from Dell’Oro Group, Samsung became the world's fourth-largest network equipment vendor during the first half of this year. The company stole the No. 4 position from Chinese vendor ZTE.

Those results are not necessarily a surprise. ZTE has been embroiled in a high-profile battle with the U.S. government over the company’s reported failure to reprimand employees involved in business transactions in Iran. ZTE suffered through months of uncertainty following the U.S. government's ban on ZTE business with U.S.-based companies. The company has only recently restarted business with companies in the U.S.

Perhaps more importantly, Dell’Oro’s new report also reiterates the firm's position that the mobile infrastructure radio access network (RAN) market is finally growing after years of sluggishness. And that growth is particularly apparent in the North American market where U.S. wireless network operators are rushing to deploy advanced wireless network technologies including 5G.

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“The momentum in the first half is a testament to the reality that the tides are turning in the U.S. market,” said Dell'Oro’s Stefan Pongratz in a statement. “The double-digit growth in the first half was driven by a confluence of factors including continued LTE coverage deployments, robust capacity investments to cope with increased data traffic, growing investments to ensure the network is ready for 5G NR, and new capex to support FirstNet.”

Pongratz reiterated Dell’Oro’s forecast from January that predicts a positive five-year compound annual growth rate in the RAN equipment space—the first time the firm has predicted a rise in that metric in the past seven years.

The firm forecast assumes “healthy growth” in the space in 2021 and 2022.

Samsung's momentum in the market is also not much of a surprise. The company has been racking up deals with the likes of Verizon, Sprint and others, particularly in the North American market.

Indeed, Nokia's CEO recently acknowledged the company lost a "small number" of Verizon's markets but argued the company is not losing share to rivals in its critical North American market.

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Ericsson now has commercial 5G RAN contracts with South Korea’s three major mobile operators.

The Wall Street Journal reports that AT&T has hired bankers at Centerview Partners and Goldman Sachs Group in the talks with Elliott.

MWC Los Angeles 2019 kicks off in just a few days, with vertical industries being drawn into the mobile conversation.