Fresh from announcing a major expansion of its 3G/4G contract with Verizon Wireless, and a surprise return to profit, Alcatel-Lucent is in bullish mood.
It is expressing confidence that it will gain a big part of Sprint's upcoming multibillion dollar network upgrade, now that Huawei has been ruled out, and is also expecting to spearhead 4G deployments in China and India.
In an extensive interview with Dow Jones, Alcatel-Lucent Asia-Pacific president Rajeev Singh-Molares said of the Sprint deal. "We are very confident in the superiority of our technology."
The contract, for multimode base stations to support a range of current and future networks, should be worth $5 billion (€3.6 billion) to $7billion. With Chinese suppliers reportedly excluded from the bid – apparently under pressure from US security concerns –Alca-Lu and Ericsson are said to be the frontrunners, although Sprint wants their price bids to be reduced. The two vendors have also shared the LTE deals at both Verizon and AT&T.
But many of the biggest 4G opportunities for Alcatel-Lucent will be in Asia, Singh-Molares insists. It has already taken part in China Mobile's trial TD-LTE network for Shanghai Expo, and is confident that it will gain significant Indian business too.
Strangely, considering that Japan's NTT DoCoMo aims to go live with LTE next month, the executive thinks the first LTE deployment in Asia will be in India, during the second quarter of 2011.
There is no spectrum for FD-LTE allocated in India yet, though some buyers of 2.3GHz broadband wireless licenses may opt for the TDD flavor of the technology, as an alternative to the more established Wimax.
“Where's first 4G network going to be deployed in Asia? I think probably it's going to be India... it could also be Japan or Korea, it depends on how trials go,” Singh-Morales said, and added that his company will also bid for 4G contracts in South Korea.
“We have strong commercial relationships with key Korean customers. Korea in many ways is probably one of the most advanced markets in terms of mobile infrastructure,” he commented in the interview.
Also in Asia, Alcatel-Lucent has completed a key phase of its LTE trial with SingTel in Singapore, achieving “excellent network stability and very good performance.”
The next stage will address advanced features such as data throughput enhancements, VoIP, integration and service continuity between 2G/3G/HSPA and LTE, self-optimizing networks and security.
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