Telecom dumps Alcatel-Lucent for Huawei in 4G network build

Telecom Corp, the country’s biggest telecommunications company, has dumped the architect of its mobile network Alcatel-Lucent in favour of Chinese heavyweight Huawei to build its 4G infrastructure.

The Auckland-based company picked Huawei due to its experience building 73 long-term evolution (LTE) mobile technology networks across 42 countries and because the Chinese telecommunications manufacturer is “truly pushing the boundaries of LTE technology,” chief technology officer David Havercroft said in a statement.

Telecom was trialling both companies in its 4G pilot in preparation for a government auction of 700 megahertz radio spectrum that was coming free as analogue television services are switched off.

“While such technology is some way from launching commercially, it is very exciting to be working with a technology partner who has this level of capability, and a massive commitment to research and development that we can bring to New Zealand,” Havercroft said.

Alcatel-Lucent came under fire in 2009 as the architect of Telecom’s XT network, with a spate of outages costing it $15 million in compensation packages to disgruntled customers.

Telecom plans to launch its 4G LTE network on its Auckland smartphone network in October, with a roll-out to Wellington and Christchurch by Christmas, and half the nation covered during 2014.

Chris Quin, Telecom retail chief executive, said if the company is successful in the government’s spectrum auction it can “significantly improve coverage in rural areas” and intends to install the new technology in the rural broadband initiative sites early next year.

The use of 4G technology would put mobile internet connections on par with landline broadband services, allowing for cheaper and better services.

The government’s radio spectrum auction if forecast to boost the economy by between $1.1 billion and $2.4 billion over two decades through lower costs of mobile network deployment, according to Ministry of Economic Development estimates.

Telecom’s shares fell 0.4 percent to $2.39 at the open today, and have gained 5.9 percent this year.


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