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