Alcatel-Lucent is the latest western-based vendor to announce a high-profile 3G WCDMA network deal with China Unicom. The contract – secured through the vendor’s local unit, Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell – covers network rollout in 14 Chinese provinces, with initial network deployments in the cities of Tianjin, Baoding, Wenzhou, Taizhou, Guiyang and Guilin expected to be completed by May. 11,000 WCDMA base stations will be rolled out as part of the deal. The contract – financial details of which were not disclosed – adds four new provinces to the regions Alcatel-Lucent was serving as a second-generation supplier to China Unicom.
Alcatel-Lucent follows rivals Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks in announcing 3G deals with the operator. Meanwhile, Chinese suppliers Huawei and ZTE are believed to have been the biggest winners in China Unicom’s 3G plans. At last month’s GSMA Mobile World Congress, China Unicom’s chairman and CEO, Chang Xiaobing, revealed plans to launch 3G services from 1 May and have 248 cities covered by the end of the year. By then 80,000 base stations will have been deployed, covering 70 percent of the Chinese population. The operator is reported to be spending about CNY30 billion (US$4.4 billion) this year on its 3G networks.