Huawei & Ericsson Steal the LTE Scene

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Ericsson AB are dominating the growing LTE market, according to a new report from Informa Telecoms & Media.

Huawei is in the lead, despite its frequent security kerfuffles, with 40 percent of network contract awards, and Ericsson is trailing closely behind at 34 percent, Informa finds based on its analysis of the global LTE market and its suppliers. Next comes Nokia Solutions and Networks at 17 percent followed by Alcatel-Lucent, Samsung Corp., ZTE Corp. and NEC Corp., which, combined, make up the remaining 9 percent of allocated contracts. (See Huawei Juggernaut Rolls On.)

Report co-author Dimitris Mavrakis says that operator CTOs Informa interviewed suggested that Huawei and Ericsson are winning out because both are "highly regarded when assessing vendors according to technology, pricing, support and managed-service capabilities."

The wins are split amongst the 184 LTE networks that Informa says were live as of the end of July, although the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) puts that number a bit higher at 200 networks in 76 countries. Informa expects another 159 deployments forthcoming, with the majority coming in 2013. Thanks to some operators' accelerated LTE rollouts, the analyst firm anticipates there will be 1.36 billion LTE subscriptions globally by the end of 2018. (See 200 LTE Networks Now Live Worldwide.)

Of these networks, both present and planned, there are 23 frequency bands at play. The 1800 MHz is quickly becoming one of the most prevalent -- and most likely to roam on -- with 90 operators in 53 countries tapping into the common band between 2011 and 2015, including T-Mobile US's upcoming launch in the US. (See Talkin' the Lowdown LTE Roaming Blues.)

The other big growth story in LTE will come from Long Term Evolution Time Division Duplex (LTE TDD) networks. The GSA says that 182 of today's 200 LTE networks use the frequency division duplex (FDD) version of LTE, but operators such as Sprint Corp. will be moving towards the LTE TDD flavor of 4G technology in the near future.

That's good news for vendors like Samsung and Ericsson, which have a lot of experience with LTE TDD already. Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent are entrenched in TDD LTE market leader China Mobile's network, although Alcatel-Lucent's footprint is relatively small compared to rival vendors. NSN, too, is pressing ahead on TDD LTE, undercutting competitors Huawei and ZTE on pricing to win business with China Mobile. NSN and ZTE both just wrapped up quarters in which year-on-year sales had fallen, while Ericsson is trying to amp up flat revenues in the most recent quarter. (See Sprint's LTE TDD Future to Boost Current Vendors and NSN Gets Aggressive in China.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

speedo1456 7/19/2014 | 7:22:46 PM
Huawei says rivals block their improvement. Really, the interest garnered by recent cyber attacks has done little for the company's possibilities in the U.S.

In February an U.S. security company accused the P.L.A. of running a huge hacking band. (There is also alarm about old fashioned spying. In the previous year alone, the Justice Department has charged over 100 people or corporate defendants with stealing trade secrets or double-use technology for Chinese things or China.)

With the Chinese state and military and the links between Huawei muddy, its critics are convinced the business is a Trojan horse. As a leading international telecom player, Huawei is definitely too large to ignore. Is it additionally too large to trust?

States like South Korea and the U.K. use Huawei equipment without event. The American answer is seen by some as technology protectionism.

Other Huawei officials indicate that protection jitters are a cover for old fashioned protectionism. Huawei says its rivals gain from measures to block its improvement. U.S. politicians, he says, "are merely protecting their own businesses."

For now, at least, U.S. lawmakers appear improbable to budge, true that may induce Huawei to focus on the marketplace for smartphones rather than telecommunications infrastructure.

James Lewis, manager of the public policy and technology plan at the Center for Strategic and International Studies tells TIME. "More than 100 individuals can sell as many as the market can choose." Or that is the hope, anyhow. With all this discussion of spy craft, will America buy in?
Sarah Thomas 8/15/2013 | 10:00:21 AM
Numbers vs. Value Informa's report findings -- and this post, by extension -- were a bit misleading, so I wanted to note that winning the most contracts isn't necessarily akin to winning the highest-value contracts. When you look at what vendors have the highest-revenue and most extensive deals with operators, it could be (and most likely is) a different story.

I've reached out to Informa to find out how they break it down by value, and will update as soon as I hear back.
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