Airtel, Nokia sign deal to boost 4G capacity, lay groundwork for 5G

Airtel, Nokia sign deal to boost 4G capacity, lay groundwork for 5G
Photo Credit: Reuters
28 Apr, 2020

Telecom company Bharti Airtel has signed a multi-year deal with gear maker Nokia to boost its 4G capacity, lay the foundation for 5G network and enhance customer experience.

The companies did not disclose the value of the transaction. However, news agency IANS reported, citing industry sources, that the deal was valued at around $1 billion.

The Finnish consumer electronics company looks to deploy its radio solution, Single Radio Access Network (SRAN), across nine telecom circles in India by 2022 to prepare for 5G, according to a statement. To be sure, the country currently has 22 telecom circles.

The SRAN solution helps operators manage 2G, 3G and 4G networks from a single platform, reducing network complexity and increasing cost efficiencies, it said.

“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,” Rajeev Suri, president and CEO, Nokia, said.

Additionally, Airtel will deploy Nokia’s radio access network (RAN) equipment, including its AirScale Radio Access, AirScale BaseBand and NetAct OSS solution, to monitor and manage its network, it said.

India, the second largest telecommunication market in the world, is expected to have 920 million unique mobile customers by 2025, according to data from GSMA Intelligence. By then, the country will have 88 million 5G connections, it added. 

The demand for data services in the country is on the rise, with a 47% increase in 2019 alone, compared to the previous year, according to the Nokia Mobile Broadband India Traffic (MBiT) Index for 2020.

Previously, the companies had partnered in February to provide automation and deployment solutions of emerging technologies for enterprises. The partnership was also expected to explore 5G use cases for the enterprise segment.