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4G/3G/WiFi

NEC's LTE Launch Pad

1:15 PM -- Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. might be grabbing a lot of the early headlines in the next-generation mobile infrastructure world, but NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701) believes it's worthy of a place amongst the Long Term Evolution (LTE) market's vendor elite. (See T-Mobile Reveals LTE Trial With Huawei, Vodafone Tests LTE With Huawei, Ericsson: Why We Want Nortel's Wireless, and Sweden Claims LTE First.)

NEC believes its Japanese experiences with LTE will give it new impetus in the global infrastructure market. (See NEC Opens LTE Demo Center, KDDI Picks Challengers for LTE Deployment, KDDI Picks Moto, NEC for LTE, and DoCoMo Backhauls With NEC.)

And if you think you've heard it all before, that's because you have.

When NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) developed its pseudo UMTS system, FOMA, its primary technology partner, NEC, attempted to ride the coattails and hit the international 3G mobile infrastructure market. It had some early successes, but failed to make a lasting impact.

Now it's back, and believes LTE will provide the necessary springboard.

So what's different this time?

Firstly, Kazuya Yoshida, senior marketing manager at NEC's carrier network business planning division, says the major difference is that NEC is working alone with its own technology expertise in CDMA2000, W-CDMA, and LTE.

For 3G, NEC worked in partnership with Siemens, as it needed the GSM expertise of the German vendor. Ultimately, the creation of Nokia Networks put paid to that relationship, and with it NEC's 3G position.

For LTE, NEC has firsthand knowledge of both W-CDMA/UMTS and CDMA2000, the two technologies converging on LTE. What is more, in its home market of Japan, it will have vital and early experience of the migration from both.

NEC is providing core and RAN equipment, as well as handsets to DoCoMo, which is deploying LTE from a W-CDMA base. It is also supplying RAN equipment to KDDI Corp. , which is doing the same from CDMA2000. Both operators are expected to be amongst the earliest movers to LTE.

Importantly, DoCoMo's LTE is exactly the same as everyone else's. It is working with the industry standard, something it didn't do for 3G because the UMTS standard wasn't finalized fast enough for DoCoMo's timeline.

Will this be enough? Is there even any room for another major vendor? Answers on a virtual postcard, please...

— Catherine Haslam, Asia Editor, Light Reading

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