Sweden’s Ericsson – the world’s largest mobile infrastructure vendor – today announced it has won a deal to supply China Unicom with 3G WCDMA kit in 15 provinces. The deal – financial details of which were not disclosed – appears to trump an earlier announcement from Ericsson rival Nokia Siemens Networks, which scored a deal for deployment in 11 provinces across the country. China Unicom also today awarded Ericsson contracts to upgrade its GSM networks to support 2G/3G interoperability in 10 provinces. Meanwhile, domestic vendor Huawei announced its own China Unicom success story today, claiming that it has deployed the operator’s first WCDMA commercial network, in Zhengzhou, Henan province. Huawei is reported to have won over 30 percent of China Unicom’s phase one WCDMA tender. The vendor expects to complete deployment of its first phase contract, covering cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, next month.
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.