Italian mobile operator Wind said it will invest €1 billion ($1.3 billion) in building a network based on LTE, and has picked China's Huawei to lead the upgrade along with Italian vendor Sirti.
According to Bloomberg, Wind plans to build the network over a period of five years, with the value of the deal split evenly between the two equipment manufacturers.
Huawei, which competes in Europe against Chinese rival ZTE and other mobile equipment vendors such as Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks and Alcatel-Lucent, sees this latest deal as "one of the top five" in Europe in terms of value, The Wall Street Journal reported Roberto Loiola, Huawei's vice president of Western Europe, as saying.
The vendor has enjoyed rapid growth in its market share in recent years, aided by a number of LTE network contracts as well as other upgrade deals that the Chinese vendor has won at the expense of its European rivals. The Wall Street Journal said Huawei had an 18 per cent share of the overall mobile infrastructure market in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) in 2012, up from under 16 per cent in 2011 and just 3.2 per cent in 2006.
Wind is the third-largest mobile operator in Italy with a 23.2 per market share, reported Bloomberg. The operator competes in the market with incumbent Telecom Italia and rivals Vodafone Italy and 3 Italy.
Italy closed its auction of spectrum for next-generation mobile networks on 29 September 2011, raising €4.95 billion in the process. Spectrum was made available in the 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands. Vodafone, Telecom Italia and Wind secured licences of 2x10 MHz of 800 MHz spectrum each. Wind won the lowest-priced block of 5 MHz, the only block without coverage obligations. The licenses are valid until 31 December 2029.
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