In a bid to strengthen its 4G network and enhance 5G capabilities in India, Bharti Airtel has inked a $1 billion (nearly Rs 7,636 crore), multi-year deal with Nokia to deploy the Finnish majors 5G-ready solutions across nine circles in the country.
Nokia, which is the largest 4G vendor in Airtel network, will help lay the foundation for providing 5G connectivity in the future by deploying 300,000 radio units across several spectrum bands in those circles expected to be completed by 2022.
Reliable industry sources told IANS on Tuesday that the deal size is approximately $1 billion.
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.Gopal Mittal, MD and CEO, Bharti Airtel
Nokia's SRAN solution helps operators manage their 2G, 3G, and 4G networks from one platform reducing network complexity, increasing cost efficiencies, and future-proofing investment. The Finnish company will be the sole provider of SRAN in the nine circles in the country.
The Nokia supplied networks with their low latency and faster speeds will provide Airtel the best possible platform for when 5G networks launch across the country.
"We have worked closely with Bharti Airtel for many years and are delighted to extend this long-standing partnership further. This project will enhance their current networks and deliver best-in-class connectivity to Airtel customers but also lay the foundations for 5G services in the future," explained Rajeev Suri, President and Chief Executive Officer at Nokia.
India currently is the second-largest telecom market in the world and is expected to reach 920 million unique mobile customers by 2025, which will also include 88 million 5G connections according to the GSMA.
The country is experiencing a massive increase in demand for data services with traffic increasing by 47 percent in 2019 alone, according to Nokia’s MBiT Index 2020.
Nokia's SRAN solution will help Airtel to address this growing demand by adding network capacity and ensuring a superior quality of experience to its customers.
The deal will also include Nokia's RAN equipment, including its AirScale Radio Access, AirScale BaseBand, and NetAct OSS solution, which will help Airtel to monitor and manage its network effectively.