China Mobile appears to be embarking on the world’s biggest comparison of TD LTE equipment from different manufacturers.
The unpriced deal is expected to give further momentum to the attraction of TD LTE, the variant of 4G mobile broadband which has been pioneered in China and which some say makes most efficient use of spectrum for data services.
Reports — only some of which have been officially confirmed by the vendors involved — say that the operator is awarding contracts for TD LTE equipment to the top five vendors — Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia Siemens Networks and ZTE — plus two less well known Chinese vendors, Datang Mobile and New Postcom Equipment.
Alcatel-Lucent, Datang and ZTE have all confirmed the orders. Two of the others said that China Mobile has not allowed them to announce the orders yet, though they took care not to deny the information and made it clear that they should be able to confirm the deals later.
“We hope to announce this in the not too distant future,” said an official for one vendor. “Unfortunately China Mobile is not allowing us to make any announcement about this,” said another official. One vendor has not so far responded to requests from Global Telecoms Business for a comment, either on or off the record.
ZTE seems to have kicked off the round of reports, with an announcement on October 15 that said it had orders for TD LTE equipment in five major cities. The company said: “According to the contract, ZTE will construct China Mobile’s TD LTE networks in five Chinese cities, namely Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Shenyang, with more than 13,000 carrier frequencies.”
Alcatel-Lucent followed two days later with a statement that its Chinese unit, Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell, had won “a major contract to deploy the largest share of China Mobile’s new TD LTE trial network rollout as it extends services to 10 cities”.
The company added: “Following the new rollout as well as upgrades to three existing networks, China Mobile’s trial TD LTE network will cover a total of 13 cities.”
That number, 13, appears to be the total for the whole of China Mobile’s TD LTE project. ZTE listed the cities as Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Qingdao, Tianjin, Shenyang, Ningbo, Chengdu and Fuzhou. ZTE said that “10 major telecom firms including ZTE, Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia Siemens bid for the tender”.
An unconfirmed report said that China Mobile, the biggest mobile operator in the world, plans to have networks in 100 cities by the end of 2013, with an eventual total of 100,000 base stations. A US site, EE Times, said that the total current contracts include 20,000 base stations and 52,000 carrier sectors.
Alcatel-Lucent said: “Under the terms of the contract, Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell will deliver approximately 3,000 base stations in the cities of Shanghai, Nanjing and Qingdao, three major economic hubs of China.”
Datang Mobile, which describes itself as “a large-scale, hi-tech state-owned enterprise specialising in ICT industry, with a product and service portfolio ranging from wireless mobile telecommunications, integrated circuit design and manufacturing, to information security”, says it has won contracts for Hangzhou, Ningbo, Nanjing and Fuzhou, with contracts including “including outdoor Band D construction, Band F smooth upgrading and indoor Band E coverage building programmes”. The company, which is based in Beijing and says it is worth 50 billion renminbi ($8 billion), added: “Hopefully, the expanded scale trials will continue to promote TD LTE R&D and commercial deployment.”
According to a Chinese telecommunications news site, C114.net, Huawei has won 25% of the business, ZTE 23%, Alcatel-Lucent 13% and Ericsson 10%, with the others sharing the remaining 29%. No one else was able to confirm that, or was able to put a price on the deals.
The same site lists the cities that each will equip. Though there is no separate confirmation of this, the list implies that networks in some cities — notably Beijing, the capital, plus Shanghai, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao and Shenzhen — will be built by more than one vendor.
NSN will be involved in two cities, Xiamen and Fuzhou, and Ericsson also in two, Guangzhou and Shenyang, says C114.net.
Two of the companies that China Mobile has allowed to make statements about the orders welcomed the deals.
Wang Shouchen, ZTE’s vice president, said:“We thank China Mobile for choosing ZTE for the construction of the TD LTE networks in the five cities. ZTE has been highly committed to TD LTE as a strategic product. As a leader in LTE, our company is both capable of and confident in bringing excellent results to China Mobile.”
Ben Verwaayen, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent, said: “It is our honour to be selected by China Mobile for the world’s largest TD LTE network. With our industry-leading LTE solutions and expertise in deploying LTE networks worldwide, we will help China Mobile dramatically reduce technical complexity, power consumption and operating costs in the face of sharp traffic growth.”
There were no official statements from Ericsson, Huawei or NSN.
More from GTB
Sprint says 'no' to Chinese kit for LTE rollout 19 Oct 2012
TDD gains acceptance as operators look for efficient wireless ... 30 Aug 2012
China Mobile Hong Kong builds TD-LTE network 20 Jul 2012
SoftBank aims at 97% coverage for TD-LTE network , says ... 03 Feb 2012