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Samsung enters Europe with Vodafone 5G network deal in Britain

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Key Points
  • European mobile operators are increasingly considering Samsung to replace China's Huawei HWT.UL as a supplier, with executives from Spain's Telefonica and France's Orange previously telling Reuters they had held talks with the firm.
  • Samsung is banking on Europe to maintain growth in its network equipment business, a senior executive told Reuters earlier this month, as 5G rollouts widen.

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A Samsung flag (R) and South Korean national flag flutter at the company's Seocho building in Seoul on April 28, 2021.
JUNG YEON-JE | AFP via Getty Images

British telecoms group Vodafone has chosen Samsung Electronics to supply its 5G network equipment in Britain, the pair said on Monday, a breakthrough for the South Korean company in Europe's telecoms gear market.

European mobile operators are increasingly considering Samsung to replace China's Huawei HWT.UL as a supplier, with executives from Spain's Telefonica and France's Orange previously telling Reuters they had held talks with the firm.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Britain has already ordered all Huawei equipment to be removed from its 5G network by the end of 2027, echoing a U.S. campaign against Huawei, citing national security risks.

Samsung is banking on Europe to maintain growth in its network equipment business, a senior executive told Reuters earlier this month, as 5G rollouts widen.

"It still has a long way to go to catch Ericsson and Nokia, but Samsung has a well-rounded 5G RAN portfolio across mobile broadband, fixed wireless access and private 5G networks, so it should be seen as a genuine contender," said CCS Insight analyst Richard Webb.

The European telecoms equipment market is dominated by Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei, but Samsung has entered the picture after it unexpectedly landed a $6 billion deal with U.S. giant Verizon in September.

Several telecom operators are also warming to a new approach to wireless network architecture called Open RAN, which allows mobile operators to mix and match equipment from various suppliers, potentially improving flexibility and reducing costs.

While companies such as Japan's Rakuten and Dish Network have been at the forefront of using open networks, older telecom firms like Telefonica and Vodafone are now also emerging as proponents of the new technology.