MWC Scorecard: Infrastructure vendors

Whose profile is rising:  Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson. Last week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Verizon Communications EVP and CTO Dick Lynch announced the company's vendors for the first-phase of its LTE buildout. Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent scored big wins and will be providing the radio access network for the carrier. In addition, Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Siemens will be the key suppliers for the IMS network that will enable rich multimedia applications. Finally, the enhanced packet core will be provided by Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson and Starent Networks.

The news was a major coup for Ericsson, which has been trying for years to secure more business in the U.S. market and has been fighting aggressive competition from Chinese vendors such as Huawei. 

But the deal was a huge win for Alcatel-Lucent, which will be involved in all three areas of Verizon's network: The radio access, the IMS and the enhanced packet core. Clearly the news helped solidify Alcatel-Lucent's recovery under its new CEO Ben Verwaayen and puts to rest any rumors that the company is exiting the wireless business.  Mike Iandolo, president of Alcatel Lucent's Wireless Product Division said that the company's performance during Verizon's LTE trials had been strong and that it is already working on interoperability with various handset vendors.  He also said that being chosen for all three parts of the LTE network proved that Alcatel-Lucent has a strong end-to-end solution. "This is a big boost to us as a vendor," he said.

In an interview with FierceWireless, Verizon's Lynch said that he knew his selection would have an impact on the infrastructure supplier community. "The two vendors I selected aren't the only two that could have done the job. There is the opportunity for the entire infrastructure community to rally around this thing. Other carriers may choose someone else."

Whose profile is falling: Nortel. Although Lynch is hopeful that the entire infrastructure community will rally about LTE, we believe his selection is a big blow to bankrupt Nortel, which has always been a major supplier for Verizon Wireless on the CDMA side. Although many analysts suspected that Nortel Networks would be overlooked by Verizon for its LTE gear, Verizon's announcement felt like another nail in the vendor's coffin. Can Nortel survive this latest disappointment? 

Nortel clearly thinks it can. In a statement, Nortel spokeswoman Jamie Moody said that the company's LTE technology is currently in trial with some of the world's leading mobile operators, and "we continue to receive high marks for the performance of our solution in the field. Our ongoing role in Verizon's CDMA/EVDO network and their Carrier VOIP network are of critical importance to Verizon, however they were not prepared to place incremental demands on us before we complete our restructuring. They are eager to have us emerge successfully, and have indicated that the door is open to future business. Nortel intends to continue to assess all options, including partnerships, in our drive to get our LTE technology to market."

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