Alcatel-Lucent picks up much-needed LTE momentum with Telefónica win

Alcatel-Lucent(s alu) has had a rough few years, watching the spoils of the new LTE network market go to competitors Ericsson(s eric), Nokia(s nok) and Huawei. But the Franco-American telecom equipment vendor just won a beauty of a deal to build Telefónica’s LTE network in Spain.

Alcatel-Lucent will deploy 8,000 LTE base stations overlaying Telefónica’s 3G in network. In the grand scheme it’s not the most outsized deal in the world — T-Mobile’s(s tmus) LTE build in the U.S., for example, involves 37,000 base stations — but it’s huge for Europe, where operators have a lot less ground to cover.

Also, big carriers like Telefónica tend to use multiple network vendors, so we can probably expect it to announce a second LTE contract in Spain soon. A good bet would be either Ericsson(s eric) or Nokia(s nok), the two companies building Telefónica-owned O2’s 4G network in the U.K.

Alcatel-Lucent got off an impressive start in the LTE race, winning enormous contracts with Verizon Wireless(s vz)(s vod) and AT&T(s t), but that momentum petered out as the rest of the world’s carriers started revealing their LTE strategies. Alcatel-Lucent won notable deals with Sprint(s s), Orange(s oran) in France and Oi in Brazil. It’s also heavily involved with China Mobile in its LTE trails, but every vendor in the world is competing for that contract, which will likely be the largest in the world. Most of Alcatel-Lucent’s other 4G contracts, however, have been smaller ones spread throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Correction: A previous version of this post stated Huawei was a radio network supplier for O2’s LTE rollout in the U.K. The two vendors are actually Nokia and Ericsson.