ZTE Snares Euro SDR Deal

ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) scored its first software-defined radio (SDR) contract in Europe today, as Portugal's Optimus Telecomunicações announced that it will upgrade parts of its 2G and 3G networks with the new technology and pave the way for Long Term Evolution (LTE).

The Chinese vendor says it will replace the current 2G and 3G infrastructure in the network rollout, which will cover four regions in central Portugal. (See Optimus Picks ZTE's SDR.)

But it is not yet clear which vendor is about to be booted from the Optimus network, or how much of that vendor's equipment actually will be replaced.

The operator's current radio access suppliers are Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT). (See Ericsson Wins at Optimus, Optimus, Huawei Do Dual-Carrier, Sonaecom Launches HSPA+, Moto Preps for Euro 3G , and Moto Hits Euro 3G.)

An Ericsson spokeswoman says the vendor could not confirm whether or not it is being replaced in the country because "we're not allowed to say where we have our equipment at the customer."

A Huawei spokeswoman says that the vendor's equipment is not being swapped out in Portugal.

Neither Optimus nor ZTE had responded to Light Reading Mobile's questions as this article was published to confirm the operator's new supplier strategy.

A Euro coup for ZTE
Optimus is the third-largest mobile operator in Portugal and ZTE's first SDR customer in Western Europe, where the vendor has put in extra effort lately to win more wireless equipment supply contracts. (See ZTE Scores Euro 3G Deal With KPN, ZTE Readies Fresh Assault on Europe, US, and ZTE Unveils New 'Western' Division.)

ZTE's flagship SDR customer is Hong Kong CSL Ltd. in Hong Kong, which last year swapped out its entire legacy 2G and 3G network, which was supplied by Nokia Networks , and replaced it with the Chinese vendor's equipment for HSPA+ services and eventually LTE. (See CSL, ZTE OK HK LTE, MWC 2009: SDR Coup for ZTE, ZTE Ousts NSN in Hong Kong , ZTE Pumps Its LTE Credentials, and CSL Touts LTE Developments.)

Light Reading TV caught up with CSL's CTO Christian Daignault last week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. He told us about the massive project and explained the advantages of the SDR technology for CSL. Click below to see the full interview:

But the network upgrade project in Portugal does not sound like quite the radical overhaul that CSL undertook in Hong Kong. Optimus is deploying the SDR-based equipment in just four regions in the central part of the country.

A key factor in the supplier choice is the upgradability of the equipment to LTE, according to the operator.

"In order to continue to develop its mobile network and provide to its customers a high-speed service and superior mobile broadband experience, Optimus is continuously looking for new and more efficient solutions. The choice of ZTE uni-RAN solution for central part of Portugal will allow, not only to modernize the existing infrastructure, but also to be ready for future LTE developments, helping us to stay ahead of competition,” said José Pinto Correia, Optimus executive board member, in a statement.

ZTE claims to now be involved in 10 LTE trials worldwide. (See MWC 2010: The LTE G8, Commnet Trials LTE With ZTE, and ZTE Shows LTE in Germany.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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