China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless provider by subscribers, has awarded the lion’s share of contracts for the rollout of its 4G network to domestic vendors, although Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Solutions & Networks (NSN) were also selected for the deployment. The Financial Times writes that nine suppliers were awarded contracts for the supply and installation of 207,000 Time Division Long Term Evolution (TD-LTE) base stations. Alongside the three European firms, Chinese vendors Huawei, ZTE, Datang, FiberHome Technologies, Potevio and New Postcom Equipment Company were selected for the project. The paper cites an unnamed source as saying that the trio of European vendors were each given around 11% of the contracts, whilst domestic heavyweights ZTE and Huawei will carry out the largest share of the work.
As previously noted by CommsUpdate, Mobile’s tender – estimated to be valued at around CNY20 billion (USD3.24 billion) – was the centre of a conflict between the European Union (EU) and Beijing regarding the dominance of Chinese vendors within the EU. The EU was contemplating launching a case against Huawei and ZTE for using government subsidies, in the form of cheap credit from state banks to both the two vendors and their customers, to offer goods and services at unfairly low prices. However, European suppliers spoke out against the plans, fearing that moving against the duo would harm commercial opportunities in China.
EU trade commissioner Karel Du Gucht, previously one of the most vocal advocates of challenging the Chinese companies, had said that he was inclined to abandon the case should European companies be awarded a healthy share of the China Mobile tender. In January this year, Chinese diplomats complained to EU member states that the commissioner had demanded that European companies receive a 30% share of China’s network equipment market, in exchange for dropping his investigation into Huawei and ZTE, although a spokesperson for De Gucht said that the Chinese officials had either misunderstood or misrepresented his views.