Chinese telecoms company, ZTE wins European mobile network contract

Chinese telecoms equipment maker ZTE has won a 254-million-dollar contract to build a mobile network in Hungary, reflecting the company’s growing strength in Europe, a report said Monday.

ZTE had made a breakthrough in Europe this year, chief executive Shi Lirong told the Financial Times, even as the United States tries to limit market access by Chinese telecom firms on national security grounds.

Under the agreement expected to be formally announced Monday, ZTE will build a mobile network for as many as 4.5 million customers of Norway-based telecom services provider Telenor in Hungary, the newspaper said.

“Virtually all European operators have shortlisted us now…. That has happened over the course of this year,” Shi said.

ZTE said it expected several other large contracts from European operators to come through over the next couple of months.

The deal comes after ZTE rolled out a Wimax network for Telefonica in Spain and built and upgraded mobile networks for Dutch operator KPN and other Telenor affiliates, the report said.

ZTE and its Chinese rival Huawei have been trying to boost their presence in the United States, despite opposition from US lawmakers concerned about possible threats to national security.

Huawei is currently bidding to sell equipment needed for the expansion of Sprint Nextel’s wireless broadband network.

If approved, it would mark the first time Huawei has sold equipment to a large US telecommunications operator, though it has made sales to smaller US companies, the newspaper said previously.

US lawmakers have reportedly asked the White House to scrutinise the bid due to concerns including the company’s possible close ties to the Chinese army and the Revolutionary Guards in Iran.

Huawei, founded by a former People’s Liberation Army engineer, was forced in 2008 to abandon a joint 2.2-billion-dollar bid for US technology firm 3Com due to security concerns.
Source: AFP

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