Nokia wins big in India – bags $1bn 4G deal from Airtel

bharti airtel & Nokia
Image credit: jurvetson |

Nokia has won a major multi-year network expansion contract from Bharti Airtel in India, and will now further consolidate its presence in the telco’s network in nine circles including lucrative ones like Mumbai and UP East.

Nokia had won its first 4G contract from Airtel in 2016 for nine telecom circles, which was pegged at around $500 million, as per media reports. The new contract size, however, is much bigger at $1 billion and is among one of the largest contracts for the Finnish company in India.

India is the world’s second-largest telecom market and is likely to reach 920 million unique mobile customers by 2025, as per GSMA.

Rajeev Suri, President and Chief Executive Officer at Nokia said that the Airtel deal as an “important agreement for the future of connectivity in one of the world’s largest telecoms market”

He said that the latest deal will solidify Nokia’s position in India. “We have worked closely with Bharti Airtel for many years and are delighted to extend this long-standing partnership further.”

Nokia competes with the likes of Ericsson, Huawei and ZTE in India in the wireless gear space. 

Under the new agreement, Nokia will deploy approximately 300,000 radio units across several spectrum bands, including 900 Mhz, 1800 Mhz, 2100 Mhz and 2300 Mhz for 4G services in India.

The rollout is likely to be completed by 2022, Nokia said, adding that it will also lay a strong foundation for Airtel’s 5G services in future.

If reports are to be believed, Airtel is also in a process to finalize similar 4G expansion and modernisation contracts with Ericsson, Huawei and ZTE, which are already providing 4G gear in various telecom circles.

Nokia already powers Airtel’s nationwide Voice of LTE (VoLTE) service using its proprietary IMS systems.

Airtel’s managing director and chief executive Gopal Vittal said that the telco will continue to invest in emerging network technologies to provide a best-in-class experience to our customers. 

“This initiative with Nokia is a major step in this direction. We have been working with Nokia for more than a decade now and are delighted to use Nokia’s SRAN products in further improving the capacity and coverage of our network as we prepare for the 5G era,” Vittal said.

Under the contract, Nokia will provide its single SRAN RAN equipment, including its AirScale Radio Access, AirScale BaseBand and NetAct OSS solution in nine circles, besides providing installation, planning and other services through its Global Services division.

Airtel had previously selected Nokia along with Ericsson, Huawei and ZTE to conduct 5G field trials in India. The trials, however, have been put on hold due to the ongoing nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Both companies are already collaborating to offer private LTE-based services to enterprises in India.

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