Ericsson wins LTE deals from SoftBank, Zain Bahrain

Ericsson announced two more LTE contract wins this week as the Swedish vendor continues its quest to build its share of the LTE market in the face of tough competition from Chinese rival Huawei.

The company said SoftBank Mobile has selected its technology to support the Japanese operator's rollout out of voice over LTE. Ericsson said its Voice over lTE solution will offer subscribers High Definition (HD) voice and video calling, and enriched multimedia services.

Ericsson said it is upgrading SoftBank Mobile's existing mobile core network with a complete IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) core, which includes the Multimedia Telephony Application Server (MTAS). SoftBank Mobile's Ericsson-based LTE network is also being upgraded with new VoLTE software.

In a separate announcement, Ericsson said it has entered into a partnership with Zain Bahrain to upgrade the operator's network with the latest LTE technology and prepaid charging including consulting and systems integration services. Ericsson said it will replace existing 2G and 3G radio network equipment while adding LTE functionality with the Ericsson RBS 6000 family of base stations.

These two wins follow recent LTE network deals with Tishknet of Iraq as well as Zain Bahrain rival Batelco, while Telefónica also selected Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson as its network vendors for LTE services in Spain.

Yet despite its recent gains, Ericsson has had its fair share of disappointments. The vendor recently suffered a severe blow in its own back yard when Danish operator TDC picked Huawei in preference to Ericsson for its LTE network in a contract worth 4 billion Danish kroner (€536 million or $725 million) over six years starting in March 2014. The deal was announced by TDC in September and confirmed by Huawei in late October.

Huawei has previously said it will generate around $2 billion (€1.5 billion) this year in revenue from LTE deployments in Asia and Europe. The Chinese vendor is already forging ahead in the global mobile infrastructure radio access network (RAN) market, according to recent figures from ABI Research; the research company said in August that Huawei increased its share of the mobile infrastructure RAN market by 7.2 percentage points sequentially to 31.1 per cent in the second quarter, meaning that it has overtaken Ericsson to regain the No. 1 market position.

In the entire 2G/3G/LTE macrocell market, Infonetics Research said Huawei is now in second place after Ericsson thanks to projects at Bouygues Telecom, Etisalat, EE, MTS, Mobily, Vodafone Germany, Claro and Vivo. Infonetics Research added that LTE revenue was estimated at $3.3 billion in the second quarter of 2013, a 119 per cent increase compared to the previous year.

For more:
- see this Ericsson release
- see this separate Ericsson release

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