EU holds off investigation in China as 4G tender nears

The EU will wait until China Mobile selects contractors to build out its 4G wireless network in the country before launching a potentially damaging trade case against Chinese telecoms companies.

Trade commissioner for the EU, Karel De Gucht, is also reportedly ready to bury the case if European companies are awarded a substantial share of the project.

It is thought that the upcoming next-generation wireless build out in China will account for as much as half of the total global telecoms investment for next year.

The case has been considered unusual in Brussels particularly because De Gucht has threatened to open the investigation on his own, and not because it is part of a complaint by a European company or industry.

De Gucht has previously claimed to member states that he has “solid evidence” that Beijing had been supplying illegal subsidies to the country’s largest vendors, Huawei and ZTE. According to the Financial Times, he won the backing from fellow commissioners to open up the case in May this year.

Rivaling European vendors, including Nokia Siemens Networks, Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent will all be interested in securing a contract to roll-out the infrastructure in China, which will include the build out and maintenance of approximately 200,000 4G base stations across China.

Huawei and ZTE have denied they received illegal subsidies, and are also competing for the tender.

Results are expected in September.