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Alcatel Linked to CDMA 450

Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) is the latest infrastructure vendor rumored to be mulling an entry into the emerging CDMA 450 network market.

Several sources have confirmed to Unstrung that the French incumbent is keeping a close eye on CDMA2000 technology operating in the 450MHz spectrum band.

“I have heard rumblings of Alcatel’s interest in CDMA 450,” notes Joe Nordgaard of Spectral Advantage LLC.

The usually effusive French incumbent is unable to discuss its plans. “I’m afraid we cannot comment on this specific subject,” says an Alcatel spokeswoman.

Despite being traditionally associated with the European-backed GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) and UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunication System) markets, Alcatel has recently made efforts to break into the CDMA infrastructure sector.

“We already have significant contracts in APAC, primarily China, with China Unicom in core networks, and also in Japan with KDDI,” notes the spokesfemme. “In those contracts, we often act as prime integrator and cooperate with CDMA radio suppliers, primarily Samsung and Motorola, with whom we have OEM agreements.”

A move into the 450 market would see Alcatel join rivals LM Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), UTStarcom Inc. (Nasdaq: UTSI), and ZTE Corp. (See Ericsson Adds to CDMA Portfolio, Eurotel Picks Nortel, Lucent Scores in Moscow, and UTStarcom's CDMA Play.) Last week Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) also admitted it hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a late entry (see Nokia Eyes CDMA 450).

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Alcatel go down this path,” comments Current Analysis’s Peter Jarich. “With CDMA 450 increasingly positioned as CDMA’s answer to cheap GSM, it would seem a natural fit in many of the markets where Alcatel has had its success... Sure, Alcatel doesn’t have a long line of CDMA2000 experience, but it does have great channels into the emerging markets where CDMA 450 would be a great fit.”

Deployed in frequency bands previously hosting analog Nordic Mobile Telephony (NMT) cellular systems, CDMA 450 signals yield a broader cell radius than networks running over 850-, 1800/1900- or 2100-MHz systems, meaning up to 80 percent fewer base stations are required for a given deployment.

Such capex benefits have boosted carrier interest in the market over the last few months (see CDMA 450 Flows Into Norway, CDMA 450 Seeps Into Europe, and CDMA 450 Czechs In).

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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