Modest in Victory

When is a mobile network infrastructure deal not worth mentioning to the wider world? When you're as large as Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERICY) and the deal is worth less than SKr 500 million (US$54 million/€55 million), it seems.

The Swedish giant last week signed off on a deal to provide further equipment to France's troisième mobile operator Bouygues Telecom for GSM and GPRS kit, a relationship that stretches back to 2000. But despite the extension to the exclusive relationship, there was silence from the Ericsson camp.

When Unstrung called to check whether such a deal had indeed been struck, a spokeswoman confirmed the deal but said "it was only a small deal. We only put out a press release for major contracts." What's the cutoff point for a major deal, we asked? "If it's worth more than 500 million Swedish Krona."

While Ericsson may not think this extended relationship worth the time and effort of an official announcement, we can't help wondering whether it is simply ensuring it has its foot in the door when (I suppose that should be if) Bouygues hears whether its application for France's third 3G license has been successful. The operator, which has about 6 million customers and is due to launch an i-Mode service in the coming six months (see NEC Bags Euro I-Mode Deal), is expecting to hear from the French regulator any day now.

With an exclusive GSM relationship in the bag, Ericsson would no doubt fancy its chances of sweeping up any UMTS equipment business. That probably would be a deal worth talking about.

— Ray Le Maistre, European Editor, Unstrung
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