Choosing LTE vendors in a hot M&A environment

Jessica Scarpati
03 Jun 2010
"Usually, in a case where there's an acquisition, that acquiring vendor will continue support," she said. "Don't forget, they get the employees, too, and most of them just rebrand [the product]. Most of them have worked for the competition at some point. There is a danger, but it's not [as if] support just ends as soon as the acquisition happens."
Carriers stand by top LTE vendors despite downturn
Some LTE vendors have weathered the recession better than others. Huawei reported to investors last year that it grew its overall revenue from 2008 to 2009 by an eye-popping 19% -- from $18.3 billion to $21.8 billion.
Ericsson was largely unscathed compared with its more direct competitors, reporting a 1% decline in revenues from $26.3 billion in 2008 to $25.9 billion last year. But Alcatel-Lucent reported an 11% revenue loss from $20.8 billion in 2008 to $18.5 billion in 2009.
Carriers are creatures of comfort, however. They loathe taking a chance on LTE vendors whose staying power in the market is uncertain, Kish said. No one gasped when both Verizon Wireless and AT&T announced their top LTE vendors, Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson, which have been key suppliers for North America's two dominant carriers despite their recent financial troubles.
As a result, they're likely to be tougher on the balance sheets of newer or smaller equipment suppliers, such as Huawei, to ensure that a product purchased today won't be acquired and discontinued in a few years, Kish said.
"Most of them have had relationships with these [LTE vendors] forever," she said. "Huawei made some serious milestones with their financials, but there was some question as to whether or not it was by undercutting on price and [whether that would be sustainable]."
A Verizon spokesperson declined to comment on how the operator chose its LTE vendors, which also include Cisco-acquired Starent Networks for the packet core and Nokia Siemens Networks for the IMS network. AT&T did not respond to a request seeking comment.
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