China Telecom has named five vendors – Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell, Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and ZTE – to supply FDD-LTE equipment for the second phase of its FDD-TDD hybrid network.
The companies were shortlisted to supply base stations, an operation and maintenance centre and other network elements. Huawei and ZTE are believed to once again account for more than half of the total contract, C114.net reported, but noted that the final results haven’t been announced and changes are possible.
The operator, China’s third ranked player with 195 million total mobile connections, opened the second procurement tender in November and reportedly fast-tracked the process since it is desperate to expand its hybrid network in order to gain on market leader China Mobile, which already has 80 million 4G connections. China Telecom only has 3.7 million.
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) last month approved requests from China Telecom and China Unicom to expand their hybrid LTE network trials to an additional 15 cities, giving them licences to operate FDD-LTE services in 56 markets.
The MIIT has not yet issued national FDD-LTE licences, although reports surfaced in early November that it was preparing to launch nationwide licences, which would allow the number two and three players to rapidly expand their 4G networks and be on more equal footing with China Mobile.
A source told C114.net that since the first two rounds of bidding were small-scale, the future winners of the full nationwide tender won’t necessarily be the current suppliers, so there could be opportunities for other vendors.