Thanks to a freshly landed deal with Clearwire, Huawei will join vendors including Cisco, Motorola and Samsung to build out the WiMAX provider’s nationwide network.
The agreement marks the first deployment of Huawei’s new WiMAX base station, which features four transmitters and four receivers. Clearwire said all future base stations deployed on its network will be of the four-receiver variety. The choice of Huawei allows Clearwire to deploy a four-channel base station on its network for the first time.
“Certainly in terms of performance … the transceiver capability gives us a significant improvement in coverage, as well as capacity,” said Clearwire senior vice president and chief technology officer John Saw in a conference call. “We know [Huawei] has the ability to scale this very rapidly. They have a very flexible platform.”
Initially, Huawei will build out WiMAX networks in Seattle and the Hawaiian islands.
Aside from dongles, Clearwire has not yet announced any deals with manufacturers of WiMAX-compatible devices. Saw said the infrastructure agreement with Huawei “does not preclude us from exploring opportunities with devices, as well.”
Huawei will also supply element management system components and related network hardware and software.
Huawei has been trying to gain traction in the U.S. market for some time. “It doesn’t surprise me at all that they snagged this deal with Clearwire,” says analyst Julien Blin of JBB Research. “They can take advantage of their low-cost structure to get market share, and I think they’re well positioned to become a leader in the WiMAX market.”
Yankee Group analyst Ari Banerjee echoed his comments, saying the deal was a “high-profile breakthrough” in the North American market. Banerjee also believes cost played a role in the decision. “For Clearwire, it’s a clear signal to its vendors that they will take all possible measures to drive down costs,” Banerjee says.
In the announcement, Clearwire also named several other suppliers. Motorola and Samsung were named for the carrier’s RAN equipment, with Motorola also providing extra microwave backhaul equipment.
In addition, Cisco will provide the core IP NGN infrastructure, Ciena will handle base station switching and DragonWave will supply the network’s microwave backhaul transport.
Clearwire declined to provide updates on its WiMAX deployments, saying only that it was on track with its previously stated goal of covering 80 markets and 120 million people by 2010. More detail about deployments is expected to emerge in the company’s second-quarter earnings release after the market closes today.
Analysts expected Clearwire’s losses to grow in the second quarter as the company continues to burn through cash. The company lost 37 cents per share last quarter excluding unusual items, and that figure is expected to worsen to a loss of 39 cents per share.
However, the company’s network expansion should improve sales. Analysts expect revenue to hit $65.24 million in the second quarter, compared with $62.13 million last quarter.
Separately, Huawei, lifted by spending in China, is now in a near tie with Alcatel-Lucent in terms of annualized revenue from optical networking equipment.
Ovum calculates the global optical networking (ON) market was worth $3.9 billion in the second quarter of 2009, up 11 percent sequentially, though down 9 percent compared with Q2 ‘08.
Ron Kline, Ovum’s research director of optical networking, said: “Spending in Asia-Pacific remained surprisingly strong, driven by 3G network builds in China. The level of spending we’re seeing in China has disproportionally benefitted Huawei and ZTE, adding over a share point each to their market positions, and has brought Huawei to the verge of market leadership, an event we think very likely for Q3 '09.”
The top-10 ON vendors, in no particular order, are Huawei, ZTE, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Ciena, Fujitsu, NEC, Nokia Siemens, Nortel and Tellabs.
– CED's Brian Santo contributed to this article