Chinese to dominate infrastructure market, says CSL CEO

The chief executive officer of CSL, Hong Kong’s first-placed mobile carrier, has predicted that Chinese vendors will come to dominate the global mobile infrastructure market.

In an exclusive interview with, Tarek A. Robbiati, who has also held senior executive positions at Australian carrier Telstra and the UK arm of Orange, said: “Further consolidation will come in the next three to five years. In the end there will be only three [infrastructure vendors] left, and two of them will be Chinese. The European vendors are just too slow.”

In London with ZTE (the Chinese vendor is the sole supplier to CSL) to discuss the carrier’s recently deployed HSPA+ all-IP SDR network, Robbiati argued that ZTE and Huawei can no longer be viewed as competing only on price – an accusation that has been levelled at the two vendors in the past. Price remained important, he said, but technical performance was the deal maker.

“In Hong Kong there is some snobbery towards mainland China,” he said. “But it’s ridiculous, you only have to look at the technology that comes out of China. I faced scepticism from my engineers when I first told them we were going with ZTE, but that changed when they saw the technology, the speed to market and the quick response times,” he added.

Robbiati also predicted that China will be the world’s largest 3G market within twelve months, arguing that Chinese 3G speeds are already faster than those available in Europe, which he described as “appallingly weak”.

As British political and industry figures prepared to discuss plans to roll out 2Mbps broadband to every home in Britain, Robbiati dismissed the strategy as insufficient. He said CSL had theoretical high speeds of 21Mbps on its new network, with 14Mbps being recorded in usage scenarios. “When you have the kind of speeds that we have, everything chances,” he said, adding: “2Mbps is just too little, too late.”

Despite his high praise for China, Robbiati said he “didn’t buy” Chinese government aspirations to see 20 per cent of the global 3G market using TD-SCDMA, the homespun Chinese standard. Reports last week in the Chinese domestic press revealed the nation’s MIIT desires to see TD-SCDMA pushed worldwide, as well as taking a 50 per cent share in its home market.

“I don’t buy that because TD-SCDMA uses unpaired spectrum, which isn’t available in all geographies,” he said.


  1. Avatar Vijay 16/06/2009 @ 11:01 pm

    Looking at the World Intellectual Property filings from WIPO, it is no surprise that the Chinese vendors are predicted to dominate. Last year Huawei Technologies moved up 9 places to become the world’s 4th largest applicant, ahead of Alcatel and Ericsson.

    But we cannot rule out the pricing at all, because if it weren’t for pricing, the likes of Huawei would have been hiring local employees in Europe, which they don’t do enough of.

  2. Avatar Mladen 17/06/2009 @ 10:41 am

    Who will be the third player?

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