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Overseas firms sign 3G deals

TWO overseas firms announced yesterday they would sign next-generation mobile communications deals with Chinese carriers, helping them break the world's biggest handset market. China has more than 600 million mobile subscribers.

Alcatel-Lucent inked agreements worth a combined US$1.7 billion with China Mobile and China Telecom to provide telecoms networks and services in 2009, focusing on the 3G sector.

LG Electronics Inc, the world's third-largest mobile phone maker, won orders from all three Chinese carriers to supply their 3G handsets, the South Korea-based firm said.

"China is one of a few countries still with strong demand for network equipment amid the slow global economy," said Sandy Shen, an analyst at Gartner Inc.

As the leading operators in China, China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom were granted 3G licenses in January 2009, which allow them to provide high-speed services for users including video conferencing, film downloads and video calls.

Alcatel-Lucent's agreement with China Mobile was valued at approximately US$1 billion. Alcatel-Lucent will provide the world's No. 1 mobile carriers 2G and 3G networking equipment and related services, including products and services based on China's home-grown 3G technology.

Alcatel-Lucent will also provide 3G networking equipment and network maintenance services to support the rollout of the company's 3G wireless broadband network.

LG won about a third of China Telecom's total orders for mobile phones, the company said, without providing a value for the contracts.

LG will launch eight 3G models in China in the first half of 2009, LG China said yesterday.

The firm aims to launch a total of 25 3G models on the Chinese market this year.

3G will attract direct investment in China of 40 billion yuan (US$5.88 billion) within the next three years, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

China Unicom also recently announced a deal with Alcatel-Lucent to deploy its 3G networks in 14 Chinese provinces, based on technology developed in Europe.



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