Huawei and ZTE were the major winners in China Mobile’s recent CNY37.1 billion ($5.2 billion) 5G tender, leaving Nokia empty-handed.
While Huawei took the lion’s share of contracts with 57.3% of their total value, ZTE got a look in with 28.7% and western vendors were not shunned entirely, with Ericsson winning 11.5% of total contract value.
The final 2.6% went to China Information Communication Technologies, which was formed in 2018 by a merger of FiberHome Technologies and Datang Telecom Group.
China Mobile began the second part of its 5G tender in early March, with the aim of pushing coverage across the country by deploying an additional 232,000 base stations.
The operator held its first 5G tender in June 2019, and Nokia won core network contracts including 12% of a mobility management device tender and 9% of a system architecture evolution gateway contract. Its exclusion in the second round is therefore unexpected.
The Finnish vendor’s footprint in China has never been vast, and it has seen its fortunes ailing in the market. Its Q4 2019 revenue was down 25% year-on-year to €469 million.
When releasing its forecast in February, Nokia left China out “given that pursuing market share in China presents significant profitability challenges and the region has some unique market dynamics”.
China Mobile has finished its initial 5G rollout, extending coverage to 50 cities. It now aims to have 300,000 sites functional by the end of the year.