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Chinese handset vendors set sights on U.S.

A robust economy in China may be fueling robust ambitions. Two domestic Chinese handset makers will use the upcoming CTIA Wireless 2007 show to launch handsets in the United States, one under its own brand and the other under a well-recognized name, if not a famous brand.
Alcatel Mobile Phones will introduce handsets to GSM carriers in the U.S. later this month at the CTIA gathering in Orlando, Fla. The Alcatel brand is being “managed” by TCL Communication, a subsidiary of electronics manufacturer TCL Corp. of Huizhou, China. Whether TCL actually manufacturers the handsets destined for the U.S. is not yet clear; TCL has in the past used Compal to manufacture phones.
Alcatel Mobile Phones is expected to announce handset models and operator partners at the CTIA show.
Alcatel-branded phones are sold by more than 30 network operators worldwide in Europe, Asia, South and Central America. According to handset distributor Cellatel, it will distribute Alcatel phones to tier-one operators in North America while Quality One Wireless will distribute Alcatel handsets to tier-two and tier-three operators.
Alcatel Mobile Phones takes its name from the well-known French infrastructure company, which formed a joint venture with TCL in 2004. The following year, Alcatel sold its 45-percent stake in the JV to TCL, which acquired the right to the “Alcatel” name for ten years.
After offloading its handset business, Alcatel acquired U.S.-based Lucent to become Alcatel-Lucent.
In its U.S. ambitions TCL’s Alcatel Mobile Phones will face competition from ZTE USA, a new subsidiary of the well-known Chinese network and handset company, ZTE Corp. ZTE USA plans to announce CDMA operator partners and product launches at CTIA. The company said that its U.S. plans include a focus on CDMA2000 1x EV-DO, WiMAX and home-gateway equipment.

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