ALU, NEC still partnered for LTE (but they’re seeing other people)

Remember that joint venture to developlong-term evolution technologyAlcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU) and NEC announced at Mobile World Congress two years ago? Those of you that do remember might have been slightly puzzled by Telefonica’s LTE trial announcement today, which named both Alcatel-Lucent and NEC as separate competitors for their contract. If they’re developing the same base station, there’s not much point in doing separate trials, right?

According to Alcatel-Lucentspokeswoman Christine de Monfreid, our eyes are not deceiving us–ALU and NEC are, in fact, competing with each other for the Telefonica (NYSE:TEF)business and they’re bringing their own separately developed LTE kits to the party. It turns out that the two vendors re-evaluated their proposed joint venture last year and decided to scale it back a bit. Instead of developing a joint product line they’re attacking the market with their own portfolios but have agreed to collaborate on a case-by-case basis when going after specific customers, de Monfreid said.

I doubt that means that Alcatel-Lucent and NEC are going to custom build base stations for specific customers, but the implication is that, in the future, ALU and NEC could leverage each other’s customer relationships in their respective markets to land deals, i.e. a Japanese carrier long accustomed to dealing with NEC wants Alcatel-Lucent gear in its network.

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