Ericsson microwave technology will make its first appearance on the Canadian market as the Swedish manufacturer renews its supply agreement with Rogers AT&T.

Mississauga, Ont.-based Ericsson Canada Inc. announced Wednesday

the three-year contract, under which it will provide Rogers AT&T Wireless Inc. with GSM and TDMA network infrastructure solutions, is valued at $465 million.

The contract means an expanded portfolio of Ericsson products to be taken on by Rogers AT&T Wireless, including its Enhanced Data for Global Evolution (EDGE) technology which gives GSM the capacity to handle 3G wireless, the company announced. Together with its 850MHz GSM, the contract will also see the first Canadian deployment of Ericsson’s Mini-Link microwave antennas, says vice-president and GM of Rogers account group at Ericsson Canada Rolfe Philip.

“”It’s basically microwave back-haul for their cell sites,”” he says “”It’s never made it to North America.””

Philip says Rogers AT&T Wireless was attracted to the solution because most of its back-haul is microwave-based. Executives were also swayed by interest in an Ericsson outdoor bay station. The cabinet, Philip explains, is fully enclosed and has air conditioning and heating built into it.

“”We actually have a very close integration of our microwave product with that cabinet. So it became a very attractive bundle for Rogers to look at together, subsequently they decided that the rest of our line looked good as well,”” he says.

Thornhill, Ont.-based telecommunications consultant Mark Goldberg of Mark Goldberg Associates says although the Swedish company has a pronounced global presence, it has not traditionally done very well in infrastructure market share in competitive markets. Except when it comes to mobile technology.

“”They’ve been very good on the wireless side,”” he says. “”And in Canada in fact, half of the wireless carriers if you count the number of carriers use Ericsson. It’s not just Rogers but also Microcell. So by carrier count, at least in Canada, Ericsson owns 50 per cent of the space.””

Of course, trouble may be ahead for the solution provider as Microcell, the dark horse of the generally tough Canadian telecommunications market struggles to remain afloat, he says.

“”They have issues in terms of financial restructuring and people who question the viability of their long-term business plan, even with the debt being restructured,”” Goldberg says. “”But Rogers isn’t in that kind of position by any means.””

Ericsson Canada will also provide some support services to the carrier, Philip says. Some of the services will mean continued installation and implementation assistance as well as expert guidance in GPRS network rollouts and RF planning.

Philip says the two partners have a comfortable working relationship so it’s second nature for one to look for assistance to the other when needed.

“”They look to us when they have an issue. It’s more just expertise when required, they’d bring us in to provide some oversight and general assistance in their network roll out,”” he says.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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