No difference between vendors’ LTE solutions says TeliaSonera

In a development that may give infrastructure suppliers cause for concern, it has emerged that 4G pioneer TeliaSonera selected its LTE vendor partners exclusively on price, having found nothing to distinguish them from one another within the technical performance of their products.

“As an engineer you look at all the technology and features,” Tommy Ljunggren, SVP and head of system development for mobility at Swedish-Finnish joint venture TeliaSonera, told “But in the end, among the three vendors that we looked at, they were definitely on a par.” Ericsson has proven the biggest winner in TeliaSonera’s deployments so far, with Nokia Siemens Networks and Huawei also involved in the process. TeliaSonera launched LTE networks in Stockholm and Oslo in December last year.

“There was no technical difference between them,” Ljunggren said, “so in the end it came down to cost, cost, cost. That was the only selection criteria.”

Such an assessment will no doubt dismay vendors keen to avoid having to compete purely on price. Chinese players like Huawei and ZTE have been able to exploit cheap domestic labour costs and state subsidies to drive prices down already, and incumbent Western vendors with higher cost bases have been forced onto the back foot. In light of Ljunggren’s comments, Ericsson’s success with TeliaSonera suggests those vendors might now be embracing price as the key competitive differentiator.

The observation that there is no difference in quality or performance between the old and new school vendors undercuts the notion that the more established players may be able to offset concerns that they are more expensive with the promise that they can provide greater performance and reliability. “In the end they all had the same performance,” said Ljunggren.

He also urged carriers looking to follow in TeliaSonera’s footsteps to offload as much of the burden of preparing for the deployment of LTE onto the vendors. “Get connected to your vendors and let them do their part in this,” he said. They spend many hours doing all the testing. Let them do that, and you do the launch. They can do it, and they’ve shown they can do it with very good quality,” he said.

Watch footage of Ljunggren’s interview with, which took place at the recent LTE World Summit in Amsterdam, as well as interviews with other leading operators and vendors.

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