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Huawei Fails to Expand Presence in Korea's 5G Equipment Market
Only LG U+ Chooses Huawei Equipment
Huawei Fails to Expand Presence in Korea's 5G Equipment Market
  • By Michael Herh
  • November 9, 2018, 11:26
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Huawei sought to expand its presence in the Korean telecom equipment market but failed due to security concerns over its products.

KT Corp. has selected Samsung Electronics, Ericsson, and Nokia as the equipment suppliers for its 5G mobile telecommunication network.

KT was the last of Korea’s three mobile carriers to announce the list of equipment vendors for its 5G network. SK Telecom announced in September it has selected Samsung Electronics, Ericsson, and Nokia as its equipment vendors. The two carriers excluded Huawei equipment for security reasons.

But LG U+ included Huawei among its equipment vendors to ensure compatibility between its 5G network and 4G LTE network. LG U+ used equipment from the Chinese vendor for its LTE services.

"In order to provide top-level 5G services and promote a 5G ecosystem, we assessed equipment from different vendors based on technology, integration with our LTE network, stable operation, and investment cost among others," KT said. It used equipment from Samsung Electronics, Ericsson, and Nokia for its LTE services. KT evaluated equipment from four suppliers, including Huawei.

Huawei has sought to expand its presence in the Korean market but failed due to the persistent security controversy and problems in its products’ connections with current LTE equipment.

5G services will be implemented in the non-standalone (NSA) system which uses LTE networks in the initial introduction stage. It is advantageous for mobile carriers to select 5G equipment from manufacturers that provided LTE equipment for them as it reduces the time required to build networks and enhances management stability. This is the reason why LG U+, which introduced Huawei LTE equipment, decided to include Huawei among its vendors of 5G equipment.

Huawei's 5G equipment was evaluated as the most advanced in the nationwide 3.5GHz network band, but as security concerns over China's IT equipment spread around the world, it was burdensome for the Korean mobile carriers to adopt Huawei’s 5G equipment. For security reasons, Chinese equipment was excluded from the U.S. and Australian markets. The U.K. government is also moving to exclude Huawei.

However, industry analysts say that it cannot be ruled that Huawei equipment will be additionally adopted for 5G networks. This is because 5G services will evolve into the standalone (SA) mode where 5G networks operate without connection with 4G LTE networks. Huawei equipment may be introduced in this stage.

"The equipment vendors selected this time will supply equipment for initial commercialization," a KT official said. “As network construction progresses, a new equipment company may be added."

Korea’s three major mobile carriers plan to send their first 5G radio waves on Dec. 1, the day when 5G frequencies are allocated to them.