Ericsson AB, the world’s largest maker of mobile-phone networks, has aggressively expanded its staff in China this year, in hopes of winning more business in the market with the world’s biggest mobile-telecommunications population.
The number of employees is up 30 percent year-on-year at about 13,000, a company executive said.
Mats Olsson, head of China & North East Asia, said the hiring was driven by the growth of Ericsson China and the impact of local and global acquisitions.
China has about 952 million mobile subscribers, with more than 100 million using third-generation (3G) networks.
The size of the market and rapid growth in mobile data traffic mean operators must constantly maintain and upgrade their networks and improve their services.
“Smartphones will really drive the mobile data traffic” in operators’ networks, said Olsson, speaking at the first Networked Society Forum held by the company in Hong Kong on Sunday.
He forecast that more than half of China’s mobile population would be using smartphones by late 2013 or early 2014.
China is the second-largest market for Ericsson after North America. The country is the second-biggest research and development base for Ericsson, after Sweden, with about 4,500 staff specifically working in the sector.
Market performance in North America was flat in the third quarter for the first time in six quarters, because it is in the midst of a transition from 3G to 4G, according to Hans Vestberg, president and CEO of Ericsson.
However, the Chinese market continued to show strong growth. Ericsson achieved record sales of second-generation equipment in China in the first nine months, according to the company. It didn’t provide specific figures.
Since Chinese operators are moving into the 3G era as well as the 4G era in the near future, Ericsson has seen more opportunities in those fields.
“We have the largest patent portfolio of 4G LTE technology in the world, and probably hold a 60 percent to 70 percent LTE market share in the world at this moment,” said Vestberg.
More than one-quarter of key LTE patents are owned by Ericsson, he added.
The company has been taking part in the world’s largest TD-LTE trial network deployment, conducted by China Mobile Ltd in seven Chinese cities since January.
“The first phase trial was successful, and we developed good solutions. We hope we can replicate that in other markets,” said Vestberg.
Facing strong competition from Chinese rivals such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp, Ericsson’s strength lies in a combination of technology and services leadership, Vestberg said.
The company has increased its global market share in mobile infrastructure from 32 percent in May to about 36 percent, Reuters reported.
Ericsson’s closest rivals in the networks market are Huawei and Nokia Siemens Networks.