Much to the chagrin of the mobile infrastructure community, Nokia Siemens Networks literally overnight saw its North American market share rise from a measly 5.5 percent to 30 percent--all for a mere $650 million. That's how much NSN agreed to pay for the CDMA and LTE businesses from bankrupt Nortel Networks late last week.
By most accounts, Nortel's LTE technology story is strong. It has just been forced to sit on the sidelines since filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January. The uncertainty surrounding the company's future caused trepidation for customers looking to issue contracts for new business. It was also the reason Nortel lost out on the Long Term Evolution (LTE) contract with Verizon Wireless earlier this year, Nortel claimed.
Verizon instead gave contracts to its existing vendors, Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson, both quite eager for many years to obtain a bigger foothold in the U.S. market but never had a viable CDMA story to do so. Nortel has maintained that its LTE gear was a top performer in trials with Verizon but said the operator didn't feel comfortable giving Nortel a contract given the uncertainty of its future. Nortel had to watch Ericsson pounce on its CDMA customers that are planning a move to LTE, and Ericsson's deal with Verizon is giving the vendor the momentum it needs with other CDMA operators.
How will that change? With a significant portion of the world's CDMA networks incorporating Nortel gear, NSN, which is also taking Nortel's 2,500 employees, now has a compelling story when it comes to migrating Nortel customers from CDMA to LTE. While Verizon has essentially shut the door on more LTE vendors coming into the fold for the time being, I wouldn't be surprised to see NSN creeping in as a good portion of the operator's gear is Nortel CDMA gear.
Whats more, what does it mean for the aspirations of Motorola, Huawei and ZTE to gain a stronger presence in North America?--Lynnette