Motorola landing the long-term LTE network deal for KDDI is not so much a breakthrough as the basis for a sigh of relief.
Motorola has been the network supplier for KDDI for some time and in its current condition that may have come into question.
Motorola helped KDDI build the first CDMA network in Japan, and the transition to LTE could easily have seen a stronger LTE supplier such as Ericsson or Nokia Siemens Networks, a local Japanese supplier such as Fujitsu, or even a Chinese player taking the spoils.
The deal includes base stations from Japan's NEC – which is a first – with KDDI using NEC base stations for the first time. The announcement gave no idea of the breakdown of the orders, but most analysts appeared to think that Motorola will get the lion's share.
KDDI will spend something like 500 billion yen ($5.3 billion) on its LTE network, which is scheduled for completion at the end of 2012, a full two years behind market leader NTT DoCoMo.
The news lifted KDDI's stock, as it had previously not made its LTE schedule clear.
It has to be remembered, as much as this relates to cellular networks, this is not a deal for Motorola's most troubled handset division, Mobile Devices.
Instead it goes to its Motorola’s home and network mobility division, a group that has been doing relatively well through the recession. For instance, last week it landed a deal to build out Poland's DVB-H mobile TV network.
So far, most declared LTE build-outs have not listed Motorola among the suppliers. Verizon went for Alcatel Lucent, Nokia Siemens Networks, Ericsson and Starent, while NTT DoCoMo chose NEC and Fujitsu.
KDDI will deploy its LTE network in both 1.5GHz and 800MHz bands and will conduct LTE trials in mid-2010.
“We are honored to be selected by our long-time customer KDDI to team with them in developing an innovative solution for their networking needs,” said Bruce Brda, senior vice president and general manager, Motorola Wireless Networks.
“Motorola is committed to bringing LTE to the market and delivering flexible solutions that help customers like KDDI accelerate the delivery of next-generation wireless access services in the most cost-effective manner possible.”
Motorola currently offers WBR 500 series eNodeB LTE base stations which use MIMO antennas, as well as backhaul systems, network management and video overlays for LTE networks.