Nokia Grabs Hutch Action

Nokia Corp.'s (NYSE: NOK) network division today announced its involvement in Hutchison 3G HK Ltd.'s nationwide rollout of W-CDMA services, easing some of the damage caused by previous high-profile problems with its radio access network kit (see Nokia Supplies Hutch 3G).

Earlier this year the Finnish vendor was dumped as the primary base station supplier for the network, in favor of NEC Corp. (Nasdaq: NIPNY; Tokyo: 6701) and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) (see Nokia's Asian Angst and Nokia Suffers 3G Blow).

Today’s announcement, however, confirms Nokia’s status in the Hong Kong rollout, with the vendor deploying core network equipment, consisting of both circuit and packet core networks, as well as a network management system. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Nokia is keen to point out the significance of the win in light of its earlier setbacks. “It wasn’t a secret that we were the core network supplier and it reconfirms our relationship with Hutchison,” says Thomas Jönsson, communications director for Nokia Networks.

The only question mark that now remains is when exactly Hutch will manage to commercially launch the network, following previous indication that services would be in operation by last August.

A joint statement from Nokia and Hutchison today declares that the carrier is still “undergoing internal trials” and is in the process of testing international roaming services.

“They have said publicly that they will launch this year, but they haven’t set a date,” adds Jönsson.

Nokia's latest win rounds off a successful week for the vendor, following on the heels of a deal to supply W-CDMA kit to the first 3G network in the Middle East (see Nokia Wins in Bahrain).

The W-CDMA air interface is part of the Universal Mobile Telecommunications Standard (UMTS), adopted as the European 3G standard and also deployed in a number of Asian countries. Used with existing GSM core networks, W-CDMA-compliant handsets and base stations can potentially increase wireless data transfer rates to a maximum of 2 Mbit/s.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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