AT&T is reportedly using Huawei equipment in a 4G upgrade for its recently acquired networks in Mexico.
AT&T's Ralph de la Vega told Global Telecoms Business that the performance of the Chinese vendor's gear is "excellent." One of the carriers that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) bought -- Nextel Mexico -- was already using Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. as its network provider. In fact, the operator got a $375 million loan from the China Development Bank (CDB) to acquire Huawei 3G infrastructure in July 2011.
Using Huawei equipment in Mexico makes good sense for AT&T as it wants to cover 100 million potential users in the country by 2018. Huawei has traditionally offered more inexpensive wireless networking equipment than its rivals. (See AT&T Commits $3B More to Mexico.)
The operator spent $4.4 billion in total on acquiring lusacell and Nextel Mexico. It intends to spend $3 billion on upgrading those carrier networks in Mexico. (See AT&T Names Iusacell CEO, Closes Acquisition and Infinera Reports 'Exceptional Year' Earnings.)
Light Reading has approached AT&T for more information about the Huawei equipment it is using in Mexico. This story will be updated as and when the operator responds.
At the moment, AT&T probably wouldn't consider using Huawei gear north of the Mexican border. The operator is the second-largest wireless supplier to the US government, and Huawei was deemed a security risk by by the US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in October 2012. The committee recommended that Huawei's equipment not be used by network providers, especially if government contracts or contractors are involved. (See Surprise! Sprint Still Has Huawei in Its Network.)
As Light Reading recently reported, in the US, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) still has Huawei basestations in its old Clearwire network. Sprint, however, has far less government business than AT&T to worry about.
Still, Mexico should provide AT&T with a good testing ground if it ever decides it is able to use Huawei's equipment in the US. (See Curing America's China Syndrome .)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading