Telecom gear maker Ericsson posted a smaller-than-expected fall in first-quarter net profit on Thursday and said the effect of the global downturn on the mobile network market remained limited.

The world's top mobile equipment maker reported quarterly net earnings of 1.8 billion Swedish crowns ($222.8 million) against a mean forecast of 1.5 billion in a Reuters poll and 2.6 billion in the same quarter in 2008.

Ericsson said the 30 percent fall in net income was due mainly to a pretax loss of 370 million euros at mobile phone joint venture Sony Ericsson <6758.T>.

The firm said network infrastructure sales were stable and the market for professional services was growing.

The effects of the global economic recession on the global mobile network market are so far limited, Chief Executive Carl-Henric Svanberg said in a statement.

He said dramatic currency moves had prompted operators in some markets to put off investments.

Some operators are also more cautious with longer-term investments in fixed networks, such as rollout of fiber networks. Most operators, however, have healthy financial positions, there is a strong traffic growth and the networks are fairly loaded, Svanberg said.

Ericsson's relative optimism contrasts with its rivals.

Earlier this month, rival Nokia Siemens Networks posted its first ever quarterly loss and forecast the global market for telecoms infrastructure and related services would fall some 10 percent in 2009 in euro terms.

($1=8.078 Swedish Crown)

(Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)