Alcatel-Lucent and perhaps other companies will install TD LTE
network equipment in Shanghai, one of the 13 cities where
China Mobile will compare seven vendors’ kit. But reports say
TD LTE will be in 100 cities by the end of 2013
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 industry’s 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, NSN and ZTE have all confirmed the orders. Three of the companies that China Mobile has allowed to make statements about the orders welcomed the deals.
Wang Shouchen, ZTE’s vice president, said:“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.”
Markus Borchert, president of NSN’s Greater China Region, said: “Our significant presence as a leading innovator in China, our strong R&D milestones in TD LTE and our global leadership in LTE are the reasons our customers choose us, both in China and in other parts of the world. We’re pleased to continue our groundbreaking work with China Mobile on its large-scale TD LTE rollout.”
NSN added that it “is involved in more than half of the major field trials in China, Russia, Taiwan and elsewhere, and has commercial deals with TD LTE network operators, including Bharti Airtel in India, MTS in Russia, Sky Brazil and STC in Saudi Arabia.”
Neither Ericsson nor Huawei have announced anything. New Postcom Equipment, based in Guangzhou, could not be contacted: its website was undergoing maintenance.
“Unfortunately China Mobile is not allowing us to make any announcement about this,” said an official of one company, though the executive 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 another vendor.
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 number of cities in the current round 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 website, 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.”
Nokia Siemens Networks officially announced its participation in the project on October 26, confirming that it will be involved in three cities — though it did not name them. The company said it would also be helping China Mobile with circuit switched fallback technology testing in Hangzhou, a technique used to offer voice calls alongside TD LTE services.
According to a Chinese telecommunications news site, C114.net, Huawei has won 25% of the business, ZTE 23%, Alcatel-Lucent 13%, Datang 13% and Ericsson 10%, with others sharing the remaining 16%. No one else was able to confirm that, or was able to put a price on the deals.
The same Chinese 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.
C114.net said NSN will be involved in two cities, Xiamen and Fuzhou — though NSN says three — and it said Ericsson would also be in two, Guangzhou and Shenyang.
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