NOTE: BITE COMMENT ADDED APRIL 12
Mobile operator Bite Latvija is seeking bids from several major telecoms equipment suppliers for an extensive upgrade of its network in Latvia, according to this blogger's sources. Bite is seeking to replace most of its base stations and replace them with "4G ready" equipment that also consumes less electricity.
According to my source, Bite approached suppliers Ericsson, Nokia-Siemens, HuaWei and ZTE, (the latter two both Chinese companies) at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona in February. Currently, the Bite network in Latvia runs on Ericsson equipment, and the Swedish-based telecoms systems builder has been given a chance at the upgrade.
A Bite spokesperson denied that there had been a formal tender request, noting only that the company has regular discussions with potential suppliers.
The interesting challenger is HuaWei, which supplied equipment for Norway's Telenor when it launched its LTE (4G) network in December, 2009. The company has been moving aggressively into Europe and set up its Nordic/Baltic regional operation in the Stockholm suburb of Kista, where Ericsson had also moved its global headquarters.
I am heading for Stockholm at the end of next week and will try to arrange an interview/videoblog with HuaWei's regional honcho and post it here.