AT&T Picks AlcaLu, Ericsson for LTE

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) today named Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) as its two suppliers of Long Term Evolution (LTE) radio access network (RAN) equipment, and identified the duo as its Radio Access Network Domain suppliers. (See AT&T Unveils Domain Supplier Strategy, BBWF: Ericsson Enters AT&T's GPON Domain, and AT&T Makes LTE Selections.)

"After testing equipment from multiple suppliers in the field and in a lab environment, AT&T chose to extend existing relationships with Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson, which provide equipment for the AT&T 3G network today," the operator announced:

    Continued work with these two suppliers will enable AT&T not only to incorporate high-performance LTE equipment, but also to take full advantage of compatibility between the suppliers’ existing 3G equipment and forthcoming LTE upgrades. As part of the supplier agreements, 3G equipment delivered to AT&T by the suppliers starting this year will be easily convertible to LTE, enabling AT&T to upgrade existing equipment and software rather than install entirely new equipment in many cases as it deploys the next-generation technology.
AT&T's new multi-year agreements with the two vendors cover LTE-enabled RAN gear that will be "deployed at cell sites across AT&T’s network to enable LTE speeds and functionality." Financial details of the deals weren't disclosed.

The choice of vendors won't come as a major shock: AlcaLu and Ericsson were identified as the likely LTE access equipment suppliers by Light Reading in September 2009. (See AT&T's LTE Suppliers.)

The selection, though, leaves Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Nokia Networks , which had been under consideration for RAN domain status, without a role in AT&T's mobile access plans for now. (See Rumor: AT&T Vets Wireless 'Domain' Suppliers.)

AT&T's decision also cements Ericsson's position as one of the leading LTE equipment players, while it gives AlcaLu a real boost in the emerging market. (See MWC 2010: The LTE G8.)

It's unclear, however, whether AT&T has decided which companies will provide the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) technology for LTE. The carrier had not responded to questions from Light Reading as this article was published. (See Evolved Packet Core for LTE.)

AT&T is pumping billions into its mobile networks this year, including more cell towers and backhaul capacity that will also support its LTE rollout, which is set to include field trials in two cities in 2010 prior to a commercial launch next year. (See AT&T to Spend $2B More on Wireless in 2010 and 4G World: AT&T – an LTE Tortoise.)

The carrier is also a key supporter of an IMS-based solution for tackling the thorny issue of delivering voice services over LTE. (See Operators Rally Round IMS for LTE Voice.)

LTE is set to be a hot topic at next week's Mobile World Congress, with AT&T's selection certain to be a major talking point. (See Prepping for MWC: LTE and Preparing for LTE.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

For all the best news, views, pictures, and video reports before, during, and after MWC 2010, check out our Mobile World Congress Show Site.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:42:54 PM
re: AT&T Picks AlcaLu, Ericsson for LTE Something worth sharing from Rod Hall, JP Morgan's wireless analyst, from his morning research alert: "The absense of NSN in yet another key LTE award causes us to again question the readiness/efficacy of NSNGÇÖs LTE solution. To be fair, both Verizon and AT&T selected existing RAN partners to deploy LTE so the selection may not be a function of product quality but rather of existing vendor relationships. However, we would feel more comfortable if NSN would show more prominently on the LTE radar screen."
digits 12/5/2012 | 4:42:54 PM
re: AT&T Picks AlcaLu, Ericsson for LTE AT&T has responded to questions about what it's doing regarding the mobile packet core, (or evolved packet core) for LTE, but the response doesn't tell us anything:

"We announced today Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson as the LTE equipment providers for our Radio Access Network Domain, and we will continue to provide further information on our LTE plans as it becomes available."

Something to dig around for in Barcelona...

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:42:51 PM
re: AT&T Picks AlcaLu, Ericsson for LTE


I think Mr. Hall is being a bit tough on NSN.  I have no idea of whether their product is the greatest thing since sliced bread or as useless as a pet rock.  But the cost of switching vendors is high, and the products seem to be reasonably close in value.  Assuming that AT&T and Verizon are reasonably pleased with their relationship, why would they switch?

I have always used 30% as a good figure as a price advantage for a carrier to switch.  That price advantage can show up in many ways, but the easiest way to think about it is that a new vendors total cost should be 30% less than the existing vendor (so if it is a $1B deal to the old vendor, it is a $700M deal to the new one).  Without some major technological shift (and I don't see one), this means a huge reduction in product margins (to say 0).  Given the financial pressure everyone is under, seems pretty unreasonable to expect major market shifts.



Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 4:42:47 PM
re: AT&T Picks AlcaLu, Ericsson for LTE

The 3G base is vital - especially for operators that pursue a 'Single RAN' strategy that integrates 2G, 3G & LTE.

If NSN had lost an LTE bid where it's a major 3G supplier that would be greater cause for concern. That's why it had to turn around the TeliaSonera contract:  http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=186633

It'll be interesting to see how ALU maintains momentum in LTE when it has a relatively smaller installed base of UMTS customers than Ericsson, NSN, and Huawei.



jya 12/5/2012 | 4:42:46 PM
re: AT&T Picks AlcaLu, Ericsson for LTE Will CDMA installed base also play a part? What about operators offering of voice (IMS, VolGA)?
boeckman 12/5/2012 | 4:42:45 PM
re: AT&T Picks AlcaLu, Ericsson for LTE

Regarding Rod Hall's comment that he'd feel more comfortable if NSN was more prominent on the LTE radar screen -- Nokia Siemens Networks currently has 8 LTE infrastructure references, many of them in 2 of the 3 lead markets for LTE, Japan and the Nordics. We are pleased to be working with NTT DoCoMo, Zain Bahrain, Telenor Denmark, Telia Sonera Sweden, Telia Sonera Norway and Verizon (in IMS) along with two not yet publicly announced operators. -Chantal Boeckman, Nokia Siemens Networks

Sign In