At Mobile World Congress, 4G fortunes being made

At the Mobile World Congress, Verizon finally announced its LTE partners, Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson. While the winners divvy up the spoils, LTE loser Nortel touts its own achievements.

4G headlines have dominated Mobile World Congress 2009 with both LTE and WiMax making news. Verizon's long-awaited announcement of its LTE partners, Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson, has stolen the show.

It's rough news for Nortel, which was touting its own LTE accomplishment at the show -- "the world's first" end-to-end international LTE call, in partnership with T-Mobile in Germany.

Dick Lynch, Verizon Communications' executive vice president and CTO, was complimentary of all the competitors for Verizon's LTE business and left the door open for expanded partnerships in the future.

"Every one of the vendors whose equipment we tested performed well. It was a difficult selection process for me," Lynch told FierceWireless. "Even the ones that we didn't select were competent and qualified to deliver. There is an opportunity for the vendor community to see another wave of investment from us."

Despite the consoling words, bankrupt Nortel could have used the major customer win.

Steven Hartley and Julien Grivolas, analysts with Ovum, wrote in a research note that the rejection must be particularly stinging since Nortel and Verizon have had strong relationships in the past.

"[Nortel] seems to have suffered from poor timing," they wrote. "It has a relationship with Verizon Wireless and a strong technology offering in this space. However, Verizon Wireless is clearly looking for a long-term relationship, and entering Chapter 11 protection is certainly not conducive to that."

For Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson, however, the good news is twofold: a major customer win coupled with invaluable experience that will put them months, or years, ahead of the competition.

"Given its leadership role in awarding spectrum suitable for 4G, the U.S. is positioning to take an early lead in LTE deployment," wrote Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, a senior analyst with Strategy Analytics. "Verizon Wireless' award of key contracts to Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson will provide these vendors with invaluable real-world lessons learned ahead of vendor selection in many other countries."

For Ericsson in particular, this win is one in a string of successes, as Strategy Analytics noted in a report on the win: "Ericsson can claim the early lead in LTE, given its wins with Verizon Wireless, TeliaSonera, and its work with NTT DoCoMo on its 'Super 3G' LTE project."

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