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
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
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
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
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.
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