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August 24, 2012

Samsung to build Three Mobile’s 4G network

Three is already planning its 4G LTE network, selecting Samsung to build its infrastructure ahead of a 2013 launch.

By Allan Swann

The Three build will be Samsung’s first commercial mobile network deployment in Europe, and will utilise Samsung’s own LTE RAN and Core solutions. Samsung will deploy LTE base stations, including all associated systems and network support services, across Three’s UK-wide network.

The two companies will develop and trial the set up later this year, before rolling it out in 2013.

"Three’s customers will start benefitting from this investment in our core network early next year and those benefits will grow further as we deploy new spectrum," said Dave Dyson, CEO of Three UK.

"Samsung’s advanced network technology will help us to continue to deliver the most enjoyable smartphone experience. In Samsung’s home market operators are busy turning off 2G. In the UK Three is the only operator without a 2G network which means more and more consumers are choosing the network built for the internet."

It follows a big week of news for Three, as it announced this week that it has purchased some of Everything Everywhere’s (EE) 1800MHz spectrum. EE was been cleared by Ofcom to deploy its own 4G LTE network on 1800MHz ahead of the 4G spectrum auctions at year end, much to its competitors’ chagrin. O2 and Vodafone will now have to wait until the auction is completed to launch their own services.

A spokesperson for Three told CBR that the purchase does not necessarily mean that Three will be able to roll out 4G services this year, as EE is not required to clear its own services off it until September 2013. Three remains reliant on the 4G auction also.

EE’s license for the newly liberalised spectrum comes into effect on September 11. EE and Three also have an existing network share agreement through its joint-venture, MBNL.

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Samsung has been expanding its operations in mobile network builds worldwide, a market currently dominated by Huawei and rival Siemens. It has already picked up contracts with companies such as Sprint in the US, KDDI in Japan and Mobily in Saudi Arabia. In 2011 Samsung founded a specialist organization, the ENO (Europe Network Operations), to boost its 4G business in the region.

"This contract marks a significant milestone for Samsung and further demonstrates our commitment to the European market," said Youngky Kim, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Telecommunication Systems Business at Samsung Electronics.

"Samsung has been active in developing and commercializing data-specialized mobile solutions since the early 2000s, and has accrued significant experience in LTE projects around the globe. We are bringing the full weight of this experience to our deployment with Three UK, and trust this will mark the start of many successful relationships with leading mobile operators based in Europe."

Three has been going from strength to strength in 2012, as it healthily positioned itself as a data-centric smartphone provider, which matches the markets evolving user trends.

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