Huawei Leaps Into US 3G

Wireless 3G efforts from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. are getting a long-awaited start in the United States, as the company announced a deal with Leap Wireless International Inc. (Nasdaq: LEAP) today.

Leap plans to use Huawei gear to enhance its Cricket wireless services, building a CDMA2000 network with base stations supporting 1xEV-DO Rev A. (See Huawei Supplies Leap Wireless.)

Leap's initial plans aren't so ambitious. The Huawei equipment is targeted for services in Boise, Idaho; Reno, Nev.; and Spokane, Wash. These are reasonably well-known cities, but small enough that journalists put the state after their names in story datelines.

Still, the deal is significant to Huawei, because the company's 3G wins so far have come in places like Spain and Japan. "At this scale, this is our very first" U.S. 3G win, a Huawei spokeswoman says. (See Huawei Wins V'fone HSDPA Deal and Huawei Wins Contract.)

"Leap aren't a big deal in themselves, but Huawei have nothing of note in U.S. wireless," says Patrick Donegan, wireless analyst for Heavy Reading.

Huawei "still faces the difficulty of building a track record of multi-billion-dollar contracts with major suppliers outside of China -- particularly with regard to wireless infrastructure, on which it bases much of its revenue growth forecasts," analyst Scott Clavenna writes in a recent report, "Remade in China: Huawei and the Future of the Global Telecom Market." (See Report: Huawei Grows Up and Huawei: File Under Travelogue.)

Gear sold in the deal includes Huawei's SoftX3000 Softswitch, the Air Bridge BSC6600, the UMG8900-Universal Media Gateway, and the High Capacity BTS 3606.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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