Written Evidence Submitted by
Woojune Kim, Executive Vice President, Samsung Electronics
Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before the Science and Technology Committee on 9th July as part of your inquiry into the UK’s telecommunications infrastructure and the UK’s domestic capability. I hope that the evidence I provided was useful to you and your colleagues in your thinking and your future policy recommendations.
I wanted to write to thank you for your questions and for your interest in Samsung’s experience of building and managing secure, high performing, reliable 5G networks across the world, and our views on how we can help deliver this technology in the UK. I thought it would be helpful to clarify some of the specific points raised during the session.
As I emphasised during the session, we believe that 5G technology can be safely delivered in the UK in an efficient and quick manner. There are several ways to do that based on our experience in other markets:
1. The easiest, least disruptive and cheapest way would be to deploy a 5G overlay over the existing 4G Network. As I said, we have done this in Korea in a commercial network and it works well. This option is known as “Open X2”, after X2 which is the interface between 4G and 5G.
2. Another effective way to achieve the goal is to swap the existing 4G equipment and then deploy 5G on top of it, without touching the 2G and 3G equipment. This would ensure service continuity for those users of 2G and 3G phones as they can connect to the untouched 2G/3G network, while ensuring you get the best 4G / 5G networks in an efficient manner. We are implementing this option with major operators in Canada and New Zealand.
3. The third way is Open RAN but this method could take longer. We are currently working on these solutions and discussing with other players who can contribute their 2G and 3G. This is a disruptive technology and has potential for long term benefits, but the maturity of the 2G and 3G solutions is still far behind current 4G and 5G systems. One may then argue why should we introduce unreliable 2G and 3G when the current systems work well and are not considered a security risk.
It should be noted that doing #1 or #2 above does not block #3. In fact, #3 can be done in parallel in many cases.
We acknowledge that European operators have a preference for Single RAN. The reason is that they have generally been able to obtain a swap of the 2G and 3G equipment at no additional cost, and that having one vendor per site enables synergies that reduce software and maintenance costs. We believe, however, that the current situation in the UK is not business as usual. It is much more relevant now to ensure 5G networks are deployed sooner rather than later without network blackouts and massive investments, which can be best done by keeping the existing 2G and 3G infrastructure as is. In that sense, it would be beneficial to incentivise operators to deploy newer technologies on top of their existing infrastructure.
The UK rightly aspires to become a world-leader in technological innovation, and the rollout of 5G technology is a very important part of that ambition. Given the range of devices and applications which will use 5G networks, from driverless cars to the Internet of Things, it is also vital that the public has confidence in the security of the network.
Thank you again for inviting Samsung to help the Committee and we continue to be available to assist you in ensuring that the UK enjoys the benefits of safe and reliable 5G access.
(10 July 2020)