Huawei Joins Vodafone LTE Trial

Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) is testing Long-Term Evolution (LTE) equipment from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Unstrung has learned.

The Chinese vendor joins five other equipment suppliers taking part in the joint LTE trial project at Verizon Wireless and Vodafone, according to an industry source and confirmed by a Vodafone spokesman. (See Verizon, Vodafone Head for LTE and Verizon Goes LTE.)

The two operators have been testing equipment from Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Huawei, Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Nokia Networks , and Nortel Networks Ltd. in their 4G collaboration.

According to our source, the operators have divvied up the suppliers between them for the trial: Vodafone is testing equipment from Huawei, Motorola, and Nokia Siemens. And across the pond, Verizon is testing gear from Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Nortel.

The operators have been sharing and swapping information about the different vendors' equipment performance during the trial. It is not known whether the operator-vendor groupings will be an indication of the operators' possible supplier choices for commercial contracts.

Huawei in high places
It's not surprising that Huawei is one of the vendors participating in the LTE trial at Vodafone. The Chinese vendor is already a supplier to Vodafone, and it has secured one of the first commercial contracts for LTE at Telia Company . (See TeliaSonera: We'll Do 4G in 2010.)

In fact, just yesterday Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao and Huawei chairwoman Sun Yafang formally recognized their relationship at a signing ceremony at 10 Downing Street in the presence of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and U.K. prime minister Gordon Brown.

Among the recently agreed-upon deals with Vodafone that Huawei mentions in its press release about the ceremony was, "support in trials designed to assess the next generation of wireless broadband technology (LTE) [sic], helping Vodafone to fully assess the potential of this future technology."

LTE not urgent for Vodafone
While Vodafone and Verizon are working together on LTE trials, their plans for deploying the 4G mobile broadband technology couldn't be more different. Verizon has an aggressive timescale for rolling out LTE and wants to launch commercial service in the first half of 2010. (See Verizon's FiOS Grows, Wireless Slows in Q4.)

In contrast, Vodafone's Colao said today on the operator's third-quarter earnings call with media and analysts that, "We don’t have an urgency to go to LTE." (See Exchange Rates Flatter Vodafone .)

"There's lots of room to grow with HSPA," he added. "We're participating in the Verizon Wireless trial, so we're not missing out on the technology, but we have a good technology that we're building on." (See Vodafone Trials Up to 16 Mbit/s.)

At last year's Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, China Mobile Communications Corp. announced that it too would join the Verizon and Vodafone LTE trial. Perhaps this year, the operators will give an update on the progress so far. (See China Mobile Joins LTE Threesome and China Mobile Flexes LTE Muscle.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

Be the first to post a comment regarding this story.
Sign In