Huawei, along with Italian partner Sirti, has won a blockbuster €1 billion ($1.3 billion) contract to build a 4G network for Wind, Italy’s third-largest mobile operator.
Revenues from the five-year contract, according to the UK’s Financial Times, will be roughly divided between the two suppliers. Huawei, however, will play the lead role in the joint venture.
Although the Chinese supplier has faced political resistance in the US and Australia, Europe has proven a much happier stomping ground. EE in the UK is among Huawei’s LTE customers, while the Chinese supplier has reportedly said the deal with Wind was one of its five biggest LTE contracts in Europe.
According to the FT, Huawei is supplying Wind with maintenance services as well as infrastructure. Although Ericsson faces stiff competition from Huawei in the supply of network gear, the Swedish supplier remains dominant in the managed services space.
The broader remit of the Wind contract, then, carries significance for Huawei.
“Ericsson has been focusing on services for a while now, with Huawei just starting out on that route,” said Steven Hartley, an analyst at Ovum, quoted by the Financial Times. “Huawei still needs to build its reputation in this area.”
Sirti is to help Huawei with Wind’s 4G network rollout, particularly on backhaul and creating an optimal interconnection of mobile sites, as well as exploiting as much as possible the Italian operator’s existing infrastructure.
By the end of 2012, Huawei said it had won 139 LTE and 80 EPC commercial contracts worldwide, of which 73 LTE and 59 EPC networks had been commercially launched. The Chinese supplier claims it holds the biggest market share among suppliers for LTE infrastructure.