Although it’s early in the 5G race, three vendors seem to be consistently racking up 5G equipment deals. South Korean operator SK Telecom is the latest to pick Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung for its 5G equipment. The operator told SDxCentral that it had selected those three vendors but declined to provide specifics about the contracts.
SK Telecom’s selection comes just days after AT&T revealed that it had picked those three firms for its mobile 5G network that it plans to launch in about 12 markets by year-end. In addition, Verizon has said it is working closely with Samsung and Ericsson on its fixed 5G wireless network that it is launching October 1 in four markets.
The selection of Nokia, Ericsson, and Samsung is not particularly surprising. The three vendors worked closely with SK Telecom on its 4G LTE deployment. And SK Telecom also has been working closely with Verizon, Korea Telecom, and NTT DoCoMo as part of the 5G Open Trial Specification Alliance. The goal of that group was to develop a common platform to share different 5G trial activity around the world.
Interestingly, Huawei was not selected as a vendor. According to Aju Business Daily, the Chinese firm was a contender for the operator’s 5G business but didn’t make the final cut.
The news can’t be good for Huawei, which has been banned by the Australian government from being used in telecom providers’ 5G networks there and by the U.S. government, which also said that government agencies and contractors shouldn’t use the Chinese firm’s equipment in their networks.
SK Telecom is considered one of most progressive operators when it comes to 5G development. Last year Juniper Research ranked the operator No. 1 on its list of “most promising” 5G operators for its extensive time in development; the breadth and value of the operators’ 5G partnerships; and its progress in 5G network testing.
The South Korean operator also has been on the forefront when it comes to combining artificial intelligence (AI) into 5G networks. At the 5G New Horizons Symposium in Austin, Texas in May, an SK Telecom executive said that it was working closely with its 5G vendors to find ways to incorporate AI into 5G to make its network operate more efficiently.