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After rapidly losing handset market share in the United States in recent months, Nokia is poised to make new inroads through its Nokia Siemens Networks unit, which Monday announced a partnership with Sprint and unveiled infrastructure products to help mobile phone service providers roll out fourth-generation LTE technology.
Nokia and Sprint said Nokia's recently acquired Apertio One-Network Directory Service will be utilized by the U.S. carrier to provide a single real-time common subscriber database. The Nokia service will be rolled out for Sprint's WiMax network, which is being tested in Chicago and the Baltimore-Washington area. LTE, or 3GPP Long Term Evolution, is a fourth-generation technology for GSM networks.
"Providing a personal experience to our customers is a top priority," said John Daley, VP of customer management for Sprint's XOHM WiMax business unit, in a statement. "Implementing the new database, coupled with our dedicated customer service, will enable Sprint to achieve this goal." In recent months, Sprint has been plagued by the loss of subscribers, many of whom have complained about poor customer support; the Apertio database is intended to improve that problem.
While Nokia's handset sales have surged internationally to a 38% share of the market -- more than the next three handset suppliers combined -- the Finland-based company has seen its U.S. handset market share dwindle to less than 10%, according to recent estimates by market researcher Strategy Analytics. Nokia Siemens' Apertio consumer database and its LTE infrastructure products won't directly add to its handset market share in the United States, but they will position Nokia for synergistic advantages that could eventually help its handset business. The Nokia unit also will provide maintenance and system integration services for the Sprint application.
By targeting LTE for both the 700-MHz and 1.7/2.1-GHz spectrum bands, Nokia Siemens seeks to take advantage of the expected wholesale move to LTE by cell phone service providers. Nokia said its unit utilizes flat mobile network architecture, available now, and provides a standardized pre-LTE product. The company noted that the product operates with Internet-HSPA, is backward compatible with legacy HSPA devices, and will be upgradeable in the future with simple software upgrades.
The Nokia Siemens technology can be used with popular standards GSM/WCDMA/HSPA and CDMA networks; all those standard networks can upgrade to LTE. Interest in the 700-MHz band has intensified since the auction for the spectrum was concluded earlier this month. Other infrastructure suppliers for LTE include Alcatel-Lucent, Motorola, and Ericsson.