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China bets the house on LTE TDD

Ericsson gets the gig to unwire the Middle Kingdom with LTE variant

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Swedish telecoms kit maker Ericsson has scored something of a coup by landing a deal with China Mobile to deploy LTE TDD, the variant of the LTE standard favoured in China, to 15 Chinese provinces that house 63 per cent of the nation's population.

China Mobile's decision to go with LTE TDD on such a wide scale is significant because the standard has not yet been widely adopted. The scale of this deal gives the standard very considerable momentum. China Mobile's massive customer base also means handset-makers are keenly interested in its choices, again making this a big moment for LTE TDD.

Ericsson's deal with the world’s largest mobile operator will see it supply radio access network (RAN) and Evolved Packet Core technology and expand the operator's core networks in regions which account for almost two-thirds of China’s population.

The Swedish giant said it has already started deploying its RBS 6000 base station technology to provide RAN capabilities, claiming an 11 per cent market share in this area awarded by China Mobile back in September.

In terms of the core networks upgrades covering 2G, 3G and 4G installed base, the firm said its latest contract gives it a 40 per cent market share in User Data Management – specifically its HLR&HSS optimised subscriber management technology.

Finally, Ericsson claimed to have been given a 20 per cent market share to supply China Mobile’s Evolved packet Core capabilities, making it the operator’s main supplier in this area.

However, the value of the deal was not disclosed.

“Our leading LTE TDD networks will bring unparalleled network performance to users and create new opportunities for innovations with connected devices and applications,” said Ericsson’s North East Asia boss Jan Signell in a canned statement.

“We have been a trusted partner to China Mobile since its introduction of 2G and are committed to supporting the world's largest LTE deployment."

The European giant has done well to fend off competition from local rivals Huawei and ZTE, which were awarded around 25 per cent each of a massive 20 billion yuan 4G contract by China Mobile back in September. As part of that deal, Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent and NSN were given around 10 per cent each.

With plans to build out around 200,000 TD-LTE base stations by the end of the year China Mobile’s is the largest 4G roll-out project in the world at the moment and so a key battleground for the industry’s big guns.

Today, Ericsson is claiming that half of the world’s LTE smartphone traffic runs over its networks, although in terms of revenue Huawei is virtually neck and neck now.

There’s certainly no love lost between the top two, especially given the European Commission’s continued concerns that Chinese players have been pocketing illegal state subsidies which allow them to undercut their European rivals in winning contracts. ®

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