ZTE targets broader 4G network deployments

China’s No 2 telecoms equipment manufacturer targets more high-speed mobile projects in 2013 outside its mainland core market

ZTE Corp will step up efforts next year to expand adoption of time-division long-term evolution (TD-LTE) technology – the high-speed 4G mobile standard backed by Beijing – with new network build-outs targeted on the mainland and in key international markets.

“We expect more TD-LTE networks to be launched,” said ZTE vice-president Zhang Jianguo, who is also the company’s chief technology officer for Asia-Pacific and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Shenzhen-based ZTE, the world’s fifth-largest supplier of telecommunications equipment, has secured contracts for nine commercial TD-LTE networks and participated in 29 trial TD-LTE networks in 26 markets as of the end of September.

While ZTE has a leading 24 per cent share of equipment for the 4G network roll-out of China Mobile, Zhang said the company has also started exploratory talks about TD-LTE with China Unicom and China Telecom.

“We have conducted a few meetings to discuss the technical aspects of TD-LTE, not the business side,” he said. “Whichever way those two operators go, ZTE is very confident because of our existing relationship with them.”

ZTE has a 35 per cent share of 3G network equipment installed with China Telecom and 25 per cent with Unicom, the mainland’s No2 carrier behind market leader China Mobile.

Zhang said ZTE is involved in China Mobile’s TD-LTE roll-out in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Beijing, Shenyang and Tianjin.

Advanced 4G networks have theoretical internet download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second. The fastest existing 3G networks run at 42Mbps. The other recognised 4G standard is called frequency division duplex LTE, which ZTE has supported in more than 30 other network installations.

Both ZTE and rival Huawei Technologies, the world’s second-largest telecommunications equipment supplier, have been extending TD-LTE’s adoption outside the mainland.

Isaac Liang Ming, ZTE’s market director for TD-LTE network products, said the firm expects to keep its lead next year as the main supplier of TD-LTE network equipment around the world.

After winning contracts in markets including Hong Kong, Japan, Sweden and India, ZTE has bid for 4G contracts with several operators in Southeast Asia, Europe and South America.

It is not known how many of these would be TD-LTE network projects. Pierre Ferragu, a senior analyst at Bernstein Research, said in a report that outside China “there are no sizeable (TD-LTE) deployments where ZTE is participating in a meaningful way”.