To enhance its 4G network and lay foundation for 5G services in India, country’s leading operator Bharti Airtel has signed $1 billion multi-year deal with Finnish vendor Nokia. Nokia is currently the largest 4G vendor in Airtel’s 4G network followed by Ericsson, Huawei and ZTE. This deal will help Airtel enable 5G connectivity across nine telecom circles in the country by deploying nearly 300,000 radio units across several spectrum bands including 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2300 MHz. This process is expected to be completed by 2022.
Airtel will be using Nokia’s SRAN (Single Radio Access Network) solution to manage its 2G and 4G networks from a single platform reducing the network complexity with improved cost efficiency. India’s telecom market is currently experiencing a surge in its mobile data traffic. Nokia’s SRAN will help Airtel address this growing demand by scaling network capacity ensuring superior quality of service for the end-user.
India is currently the second-largest telecom market in the world, which Nokia predicts to have 920 million unique mobile customers by 2025. Out of which, 88 million are projected to be 5G connections. India is yet to conduct its 5G auctions, but it’s good news that telcos are gearing up with vendor contracts.