ZTE promises LTE smartphones and tablets for U.S. market in 2012

LAS VEGAS--Chinese vendor ZTE will release multiple LTE smartphones in the U.S. market this year as well as LTE tablets, a senior executive said. The move could give the a boost as it seeks to build on burgeoning relationships with U.S. carriers.

In an interview with FierceWireless, Lixin Cheng, the CEO of ZTE USA, said that the company will release its first U.S. LTE smartphone in the first half of the year, followed by more later on in the year. He also said the company intends to release both 3G and LTE tablets in the U.S. this year.

Cheng declined to comment on which carriers will launch the products, but said that ZTE has been assiduously developing its relationships with all of the Tier 1 operators. Earlier this week here at the Consumer Electronics Show, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) launched the ZTE-made Jetpack LTE mobile hotspot, and in November Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) Boost Mobile brand launched the Android-powered Warp smartphone. Cheng also said ZTE will introduce at least one phone running Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone to the U.S. market this year. 

ZTE said Wednesday it exceeded its 2011 goal of selling 12 million smartphones and that it expects its smartphone sales to double in 2012 as it grows its market share in North America as well as in Brazil, Europe and Japan. To help it boost its U.S. presence, Cheng said the company--which was the No. 4 worldwide handset maker in the third quarter, according to research firm Strategy Analytics--will re-launch its brand in the U.S. market later this year through a marketing campaign, though he declined to provide details. He also said that working closely with carriers and continuing to win device deals will help build ZTE's brand.

On the network infrastructure side of ZTE's business, the company so far been stymied in its efforts to crack the U.S. network infrastructure market with the largest carriers, mainly because of national security concerns voiced by legislators and federal agencies about both ZTE and its larger rival Huawei. Cheng said the company is not giving up on winning network infrastructure deals with Tier 1 carriers, and said that those opposed to ZTE on national security grounds have the "wrong perception." He reiterated that ZTE is a publicly traded company--a jab at Huawei, which is privately held--and said that U.S. carriers have indicated they want to use ZTE's products.

"What we can do is keep telling and explaining to all of the stakeholders in the U.S. who we are and what we want to do here. We think fundamentally we are very close to U.S. values as a company. We do believe we will be able to work with all of the U.S. stakeholders and then they will accept us finally. We are not giving up." 

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article

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