Chinese vendor ZTE has won two more notable contracts. One, in India, is from Vodafone Idea. The other, in Brazil, is from new entrant Unifique.
Vodafone Idea has awarded an optical transmission equipment network order worth some Rs 230 crore (about US$ 29.2 million) to ZTE for Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh (MP-CG) as part of network upgrades.
However, a number of news outlets have pointed out that rules on network deployment or upgrade and maintenance require the contracted company to be approved by India's National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS). That doesn’t seem to have happened yet.
In December 2020 India approved the National Security Directive on the Telecommunication Sector; this mandates service providers to purchase equipment from trusted sources. Under the provisions of this directive, the government declares a list of trusted sources and products for installation in the country's telecom network.
It's not clear whether there is a 5G component to this contract, though the timing is interesting. We reported last week that Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of global conglomerate the Aditya Birla Group, and one of the shareholders of Vodafone Idea, had been heard on Indian TV saying the operator is to begin its 5G rollout soon.
Meanwhile, Unifique, an internet provider in Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, and a newcomer to the mobile internet space, has also signed a 5G-related agreement with ZTE.
Unifique joined forces with a company called Copel Telecom (now Ligga), which operates in Paraná to win spectrum from 3,620 MHz to 3,700 MHz in the 5G auction held by regulator Anatel in 2021.
There appears to be no further information on the size or scope of the contract but Unifique is starting to test 5G technology this month and expects to launch its commercial networks by June in the Southern Region.