Verizon taps Samsung, Ericsson for O-RAN kit

  • Verizon says it is working with both Samsung and Ericsson on O-RAN equipment.

  • The operator noted that it has already deployed 130,000 O-RAN-compliant radios from Samsung

  • This is yet more bad news for Nokia

Verizon announced Monday that it has deployed 130,000 Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) radios from Samsung on its network so far and said that it is also working with Ericsson on O-RAN.

“We are working with both Samsung and Ericsson on O-RAN equipment,” a Verizon spokeswoman told us. “The ones referenced in this release are with Samsung.”

After AT&T’s $14 billion O-RAN deal with Ericsson in early December last year, EJL Wireless Research analyst Earl Lum told us that Verizon was already working with Ericsson on O-RAN. Then Lum said at the time that that Verizon is doing their own internal version of O-RAN by mixing and matching Ericsson and Samsung equipment. Now operator has confirmed this is the case.

Verizon’s move to O-RAN is built on the back of virtualized RAN (vRAN) work it has already done with Samsung. This move to a cloud-native, container-based, virtualized architecture started in 2019 with a virtualized core and moved to the achievement of fully virtualized baseband functions in 2020, Verizon said.

Nokia’s fading northern lights

Verizon had already picked Samsung to supply 4G and 5G RAN equipment in 2018. The operator's move to O-RAN with Samsung and Ericsson reinforces the fading position of Nokia in the U.S. RAN market.

New Street Research noted recently, meanwhile, that Ericsson, is a major RAN supplier for AT&T and the 2.5 GHz midband 5G RAN supplier for T-Mobile.

This largely leaves Nokia out in the cold with all the major U.S. operators. The vendor has already announced job cuts of 14,000 and posted a 23% decline in sales for the fourth quarter, but predicts a RAN recovery in the later half of 2024.

In fact, the health of the global RAN market as a whole doesn’t look that good. Even number one vendor Huawei could suffer now that China has largely completed its 5G rollout.