Telefonica close to inking deal with Alca-Lu for LTE network rollout?

20 Feb 2012

Spain’s leading cellco by subscribers, Telefonica Moviles Espana (TME), is thought to be close to awarding French-US vendor Alcatel-Lucent a contract to construct a nationwide high-speed wireless network, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. It is thought that, with Telefonica seeking to win back data-hungry subscribers lost to rival operators, the operator is looking to the launch of a Long Term Evolution (LTE) network rollout as a means to do just that. Citing ‘two people with knowledge of the matter’, the report claims that Alca-Lu is the front-runner for selection to provide the equipment needed for the 4G network deployment, while the news agency also claimed that Telefonica will officially unveil details regarding its network strategy at the Mobile World Congress, which is being held in Barcelona later this month.

As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, September 2009 saw TME parent company Telefonica announce that it had selected Spain as one of six countries where it planned to carry out further LTE pilot schemes. The telecoms giant said the trials would include laboratory tests and the installation of eNodeBs in the field. Two months later Telefonica revealed it had shortlisted vendors for the trial project, and in February 2010 NSN announced that it would carry out demonstrations of the 4G technology in Barcelona using its LTE radio and core network equipment and pre-commercial LTE terminals. More recently, in September 2011 Alca-Lu actually announced that it had partnered with TME to launch pilot LTE networks in the cities of Madrid and Barcelona; the vendor said that the pre-commercial infrastructure would allow TME to test those applications and services that will be able to take advantage of the higher speeds offered by LTE, while also allowing the cellco an ‘opportunity to explore the overall performance and cost advantages of the technology’. Under the terms of the deal between TME and Alca-Lu, the latter said that it would provide a complete, end-to-end LTE solution, including LTE base stations (eNodeBs), all-IP wireless Evolved Packet Core (EPC), and subscriber data management capabilities based on its Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) portfolio. Further, the vendor noted that it would also build, operate and maintain the network on TME’s behalf, which it claims will allow the cellco to ‘focus on developing the best service for their customers.’