STOCKHOLM/HELSINKI - Nokia Siemens Networks said on Thursday the global telecoms equipment market would shrink faster than it expected, as it reported a fall to first-quarter loss.

The world's second-largest mobile telcoms gear maker after Ericsson said its underlying loss in the January to March period was 122 million euros ($160.6 million), compared with a profit of 81 million a year ago.

The company blamed the outcome on lower net sales, down 12 percent year-on-year in the seasonally weaker quarter.

Nokia Siemens Networks said it now expected the market for the telecoms infrastructure and related services to fall some 10 percent in 2009 in euro terms.

It had earlier forecast for a fall of at least 5 percent.

No.3 mobile telcoms gear maker Alcatel-Lucent (ALUA.PA) has forecast for the market to fall 8 percent to 12 percent, while Ericsson has shied from forecasting 2009 market.

Nokia Siemens Networks is a 50-50 joint venture of Nokia (NOK1V.HE), which announced its first ever quarterly loss on Thursday, [ID:nLG183354] and Siemens (SIEGn.DE).

The telecom equipment market has seen cut-throat competition for new business during the past few years, driven by Asian vendors, and the outlook remains tough as operators are pulling back spending due to economic slowdown. ($1=.7598 Euro) (Reporting by Simon Johnson and Tarmo Virki; editing by Karen Foster)