French-US equipment vendor Alcatel-Lucent appears to be reasserting its position as a leading telecoms infrastructure provider in Africa after a rather muted performance over the past three years owing to intense competition from Chinese and other Western rivals. In November 2012, the firm won a wireless network contract in Togo and a wireline broadband network contract in Angola. This follows two LTE network deployments in Tanzania also in 2012. BMI believes these developments are the result of a more aggressive marketing strategy by Alcatel-Lucent as it expands its emerging markets portfolio amid an increasingly difficult operating environment in its traditional Western markets.
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Alcatel-Lucent's Togo contract is with Togo Cellulaire (Togocel), the mobile arm of the state-owned incumbent operator Togo Telecom. The contract involves major expansion and upgrade of the operator's GSM and 3G mobile data networks. This will increase the network's capacity and improve its reliability for mobile broadband services. Togo connected to the WACS cable in June 2012 and is expected to link up to MainOne and ACE cables in the future. This will provide much-needed international bandwidth that will boost the take-up of mobile data services in the country. Alcatel-Lucent will deploy its Service Router 7750 and introduce its IP/MPLS technologies for network resiliency and optimisation.
In Angola, Alcatel-Lucent is partnering with Angola Cables, a consortium of local telecoms operators, to establish a 100G terrestrial fibre-optic link to the WACS cable. When completed, the network will provide connectivity for local broadband service providers as well as operators in neighbouring countries. As part of the deal, Alcatel-Lucent will supply the consortium with its 100G coherent technology, supported by the 1830 Photonic Service Switch (PSS). The 1830 PSS is a key element of the Alcatel-Lucent High Leverage Network (HLN) architecture, which is designed to provide simplified and cost-effective broadband capacity.
The financial details and completion times for both contracts have not been disclosed. However, this comes on the heels of Alcatel-Lucent's LTE network deployments for Smile Telecom and Telesis in Tanzania. These developments bode well for the operator, which is keen to expand its emerging markets portfolio to offset shortfalls from its traditional markets. In its Q312 result, Alcatel-Lucent reported a 7% y-o-y increase in quarterly sales for its rest-of-the-world division, which includes emerging markets in Africa and Latin America. The firm's new drive in Africa is remarkable considering the intense competition it faces from Chinese vendors Huawei Technologies and ZTE on price and project financing.