ZTE signed a five-year managed services contract with E-Plus a year ago and on Wednesday announced that it has taken control of the German mobile operator's network.
The Chinese equipment maker took over E-Plus's network operations last month, replacing the previous provider, Alcatel-Lucent. It has also acquired 750 employees from Alcatel-Lucent, taking its German workforce to more than 900 and making its operations there its largest in Europe, ZTE EVP Zhao Xianming revealed at a press conference at Mobile World Congress.
Zhao claimed that ZTE is the "fastest growing managed services provider in the world," managing more than 100 networks globally.
"[ZTE is] highly motivated to take on future managed services projects in Germany and elsewhere in Europe," Zhao said.
Meanwhile, Andreas Pfisterer, chief technology officer at E-Plus, naturally faced questions about the impact its potential change of ownership will have on the ZTE deal. Telefonica in July last year agreed to buy E-Plus from its current parent KPN for €5 billion plus a 20.5% stake in the combined company. The European Commission is currently examining the deal due to concerns about its impact on competition in the German mobile market.
"[There is] still a possibility that that merger will not take place," admitted Pfisterer, although he said both parties are working hard to make it happen.
He declined to comment on whether the ZTE project will continue in its current form if the deal does go ahead. "I cannot speculate on that," he said.
"Up to the point where we get regulatory clearance…we will execute our strategy," he said.