Samsung Electronics Co. has won a huge order to provide 5G communication equipment to Dish Network, marking the company’s second success in the U.S. 5G market.
Samsung’s chief Lee Jae-Yong, who is currently on parole over a bribery case, played an important role in finalizing the deal, but outgoing President Moon Jae-in said he would not pardon Lee before he moved out of the Blue House on May 9.
Samsung announced on May 3 that it had signed a 5G communication equipment supply contract worth 1 trillion won (about $794 million) with Dish Network, a major U.S. mobile carrier. This is Samsung’s second success in the U.S. 5G communications market after signing a supply order of 7.9 trillion won (about $6.3 billion) with Verizon in September 2021.
Under the multi-year agreement between Samsung and Dish, the South Korean tech giant will supply open radio access network (RAN), cutting-edge virtualized RAN (vRAN) solutions, and radio units, in markets across the United States.
In March this year, Samsung’s 5G vRAN was awarded CTO Choice: Outstanding Mobile Technology Award and the Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough at the annual Global Mobile (GLOMO) Awards at Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2022.
Founded in 1980 as a direct-broadcast satellite service provider, Dish Network entered the 5G wireless service market in 2020. The company had previously committed to the Federal Communications Commission to build a 5G network covering 20 percent of the U.S. population by June and 70 percent of the U.S. population by 2023.
“Samsung’s 5G solutions will play an integral role in our network expansion, giving us the flexibility to deploy our cloud-native network with software-based solutions that support advanced services and operational scalability,” said John Swieringa, president and chief operating officer of Dish Network.
South Korean media revealed that Samsung’s Vice Chairman Lee Jae-Yong played a crucial role in signing the agreement.
Charlie Ergen, the founder of Dish Network, came to South Korea for a due-diligence inspection in September 2021 to learn about Samsung’s 5G equipment supply capabilities.
Lee invited Ergen, a hiking enthusiast, to hike a mountain together. The six hours of “hiking marketing” eventually led to the order for 5G equipment with Dish Network, according to South Korean media.
In 2020, when Samsung signed a communication equipment contract with Verizon Communications Inc. of the United States, Lee also actively made use of his friendship with Verizon’s CEO Hans Vestberg.
At present, Lee, who is in charge of the medium and long-term investment strategy of Samsung Electronics, is still unable to fully participate in the company’s business operation due to legal restrictions.
Although Lee’s prison term will end in July 2022, he will be subject to a five-year employment restriction. A presidential pardon is the only legal way to get Lee back in charge fully as soon as possible.
Although a poll by the Korea Society Opinion Institute (KSOI) in late April showed that 68.8 percent of the people surveyed favored amnesty for Lee, the exiting president Moon decided not to exercise the right of pardon, citing that it is difficult to say that the public has reached a “consensus” for the pardon of Lee.
Previously, South Korean political circles had expected Moon to pardon a group of people, including Lee and former President Lee Myung-bak, on May 8, the last possible amnesty date of his term.