Report: Huawei in running for U.S. Cellular LTE deal

Huawei is a finalist to get a contract for U.S. Cellular's LTE network, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The report highlights the Chinese vendor's doggedness in cracking the U.S. wireless infrastructure market despite continuing political pressure.

The WSJ report said Alcatel-Lucent (NASDAQ:ALU) and Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) are the other two finalists for the contract. Interestingly, the report, which cited unnamed sources, also said Huawei is in talks with federal, state and local governments to provide network equipment to help build a nationwide, interoperable public-safety broadband network.

A Huawei spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. U.S. Cellular spokesman Steve Carlson told FierceWireless that the carrier is still evaluating the results of its LTE trial and has not selected its vendors. Representatives from Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson declined to comment.

U.S. Cellular is the nation's six-largest wireless carrier, and ended the fourth quarter with 6.07 million total subscribers. The company has said it will launch one LTE test market in late 2011, and that it expects a large-scale LTE deployment to follow in 2012.

Huawei's reinvigorated push into the U.S. market comes after Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) passed over the company and its smaller Chinese rival ZTE for a multibillion-dollar network modernization contract in favor of Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson and Samsung. Huawei's push also comes amid renewed calls by U.S. lawmakers to stymie Huawei's advance in the U.S. market--a number of Republicans sent a letter Monday to President Obama, asking the government to find a "permanent legislative solution" to block Huawei from selling gear in the U.S.

Huawei in February invited the U.S. government to open an investigation into any security concerns it may have with the Chinese vendor in a bid to knock down what it deems as unsubstantiated claims that it poses a threat to U.S. national security.

In an extensive open letter posted on the company's website, Ken Hu, Huawei's deputy chairman, directly addressed questions over Huawei's ties to the Chinese government and military, which some U.S. politicians raised last year. Hu wrote that claims Huawei receives financial support from the Chinese government or has ties to the Chinese military are "falsehoods" that "have had significant and negative impact on our business activity."

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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