Network equipment vendors like Huawei will play an increasingly crucial role in this industry. Not just because they will lay the track along which the operators can run their superfast LTE services, but because they are increasingly taking traditional operator jobs
O2 chief Ronan Dunne defended UK infrastructure this year from attacks by foreign rivals, which are already putting in place HSPA+ and LTE networks, by saying no operator anywhere in the world has yet solved the issue of traffic management and quality-of-service. These issues are essential to control and prioritise bandwidth, so those who pay a premium can access superior services.
To control the surge in data traffic, which will jump again with the introduction of mobile broadband, these functions must work well. They will also differentiate operators in 2012.
Huawei, like Ericsson and NSN, will be the firms handed these roles. Beyond the normal outsourcing of work that has come as operators have ramped down costs in a declining market and a recession, these functions are taken by kit vendors.
And Huawei is Chinese. It has Chinese resources, and increasingly skilled engineers. It is very likely it will be handed LTE work when tenders go out.
The fact Huawei is, unlike rivals, in the game of handset production too makes it one of the most facinating operatives in the game.