Huawei and Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) lead their vendor peers in terms of capturing LTE network contracts, but the entire market is expected to continue growing amid a boom in LTE deployments worldwide, according to a new report from Informa Telecoms & Media.
According to the report, which cited Informa's calculations and data provided and validated by vendors, Huawei accounted for 40 percent of LTE network contract awards with Ericsson following at 34 percent. Informa said that Nokia Solutions and Networks came in at No. 3 with 17 percent, and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU), ZTE, Samsung Electronics and NEC have attracted a total of 9 percent of allocated LTE contracts among them.
"The top three vendors have illustrated significant technological expertise and support to mobile operators, with Huawei and Ericsson having attracted the largest share of contracts," Informa analyst Dimitris Mavrakis said in a statement. "Preliminary research among operator CTOs, conducted by Informa, also suggests that Ericsson and Huawei are highly regarded when assessing when assessing vendors according to technology, pricing, support and managed-service capabilities."
Both Huawei and Ericsson, as well as their peers, are looking to capitalize on China's move toward LTE--China Mobile, the world's largest operator by subscribers, is moving ahead with a massive TD-LTE deployment and tender that vendors want a piece of. "We have participated in all large scale field trials for [4G technology] TD-LTE and we focus a lot on technology and presence," Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg told the Wall Street Journal in July. "We have a strong position in China and aim to keep it when we move towards 4G."
According to the Informa report, there were already 184 LTE networks in service as of the end of July, with another 159 planned or in deployment. Informa research and a recent operator survey indicated that 2013 will be the year in which most LTE deployments happen.
(For what it's worth, the Global mobile Suppliers Association recently reported that there were 200 LTE networks in 76 countries commercially launched by the end of July, compared to 146 commercial LTE networks that were in service at the end of 2012. The GSA forecasts there will be 260 LTE networks live by the end of 2013.)
Informa also noted that the 1800 MHz band is becoming increasingly important for LTE; the research firm said it has identified more than 90 operators in 53 countries that have either launched or are planning to launch LTE in the 1800 MHz band between 2011 and 2015.
"The adoption of the 1800 MHz band for LTE has exploded over the last year, as mobile operators are attracted by the band's unique set of advantages, such as widespread availability, excellent coverage and the possibility of reusing existing network assets," Informa analyst Julian Bright said. "Coupled with strong support from LTE-device manufacturers, these benefits make 1800 MHz an ideal band for LTE services, and a strong candidate to provide a globally harmonized roaming solution for LTE."
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