ZTE, the mainland's second-largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, expects international demand for its fourth-generation mobile infrastructure and smart phones to pick up next year as more high-speed 4G networks are commercially rolled out. Senior executives from Shenzhen-based ZTE said shipments of these products based on 'long-term evolution' (LTE) technology would be particularly strong in Europe, where the company has major 4G network trials and deployments with top-tier carriers. 'We are enhancing our presence in the European market,' ZTE senior vice-president Zhu Jinyun said yesterday, after announcing the launch of a commercial LTE network with Hutchison 3G Austria. Headquartered in Vienna, the carrier is the first to deploy a 4G system among the Hutchison Whampoa-owned group of networks that operate under the '3' brand in seven markets. The ZTE installation allows H3G Austria to provide services based on the third-generation standard 'evolved high-speed packet access' (HSPA) and the faster 4G LTE in a single nationwide network to an estimated 94 per cent of the country's population. That followed the recent roll-out of similar dual LTE/HSPA networks in Germany and Belgium for KPN, in Hungary and Montenegro for Telenor, in Portugal for Optimus, and in Sweden for Hi3G. Richard Ye Lihe, the senior director for wireless product operation at ZTE, said the project with Hi3G was the world's first and largest deployment of a 4G network that combined the mainland-backed time division-LTE standard and the frequency division duplexing-LTE standard adopted by more carriers at present. 'We currently have 28 LTE commercial implementations and 90 LTE network trials worldwide,' Ye said. He said ZTE was optimistic about the potential of signing up more top-tier carriers, including in North America, for 4G infrastructure projects after the company participated in a high-profile project that covered 99 per cent of Japan. Market research firm IHS iSuppli has forecast the number of LTE subscribers will reach 744 million worldwide by 2015. It said LTE network users would total 11.6 million this year, from just 300,000 last year.