Huawei Technologies remains the world's biggest vendor of cellular networks despite being effectively locked out of the huge U.S. LTE market.
Huawei took in 28.1 percent of all cellular network revenue in the third quarter, according to ABI Research results released Monday. That kept the Chinese vendor in the lead even though its share was down 3 percentage points from the second quarter, when it overtook Ericsson to claim the top spot, ABI analyst Nick Marshall said.
U.S. government concerns about network security, stemming from accusations that Huawei is connected to the Chinese government, reportedly have prevented the company from selling its equipment to the major mobile operators in the U.S. Some smaller carriers in the country have bought Huawei gear. But Huawei has won contracts in most other parts of the world and been part of the LTE rollout of China Mobile, which has the world's largest wireless subscriber base, exceeding 700 million.
"This is one of the largest contracts we've seen in a long time for LTE expansion," Marshall said.
Ericsson remained the second-biggest network vendor in the third quarter, while Alcatel-Lucent surpassed Nokia Solutions and Networks to take the No. 3 spot. The French-American company, which is in the midst of a massive reorganization, reported cellular revenue up 20.1 percent from the second quarter. Its gain was driven by strong growth in 4G LTE investments in
the U.S. and upward trends in Asia and in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, ABI said.
Rival NSN's revenue from 2G and 3G networks fell, while its LTE business was flat. NSN will be the largest business within Nokia after the Finnish company closes the sale of its handset operation to Microsoft, expected early next year.
Ericsson brought in 21.8 percent of all revenue, while Alcatel jumped to 16.9 percent and NSN fell to 14.9 percent, according to ABI's estimates. The report covered radio access networks (RANs), the wireless equipment at the edge of mobile operators' infrastructures, and not the systems at the core of those networks.
Samsung, better known for gear that sits on the other end of wireless networks, also supplies RANs to Sprint and other carriers. Its network revenue in the third quarter rose 44.6 percent from the previous quarter and 101.4 percent from last year's third quarter. The company stayed at No. 5 but grew faster than any other vendor, according to ABI. In the second quarter, it had only a 6.7 percent share.
With its size, intellectual property and involvement in standards development, Samsung is likely to become a major player in mobile infrastructure, Marshall said.
While the major carriers in the U.S. are well along in building their LTE networks, deployments of the fast and efficient mobile technology are just starting to take off in some other parts of the world. China Mobile is set to launch commercial LTE service in three cities on Dec. 18.
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