Motorola’s financial struggles have been much more public than its LTE wireless broadband capabilities of late, but its first public LTE win may help reverse the headlines if handled well.
KDDI Corp., Japan’s second-largest wireless operator, chose Motorola’s Home & Network Mobility unit to be a key development partner for its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network. The win gives Motorola’s LTE capabilities more credibility when going up against other LTE vendors, including Ericsson, which recently won the bid for Nortel’s LTE assets.
The Motorola contract may be larger than $1 billion, according to analyst reports, although KDDI previously announced it could spend about $5.3 billion for a nationwide LTE network. Questions are floating about whether Motorola’s win is tied to a low pricing strategy. Japan’s NEC also won a KDDI contract to supply LTE equipment. KDDI launched its CDMA network with Motorola as its primary vendor, so Motorola has traction with the provider.
Motorola’s role is to implement the basic LTE infrastructure and base stations. KDDI hopes to launch its LTE service by December 2012, which still puts it in a trailing second place to NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest wireless operator that plans to launch LTE service a full two years earlier, at the end of 2010.
Motorola is also conducting LTE trials with China Mobile Ltd.