Recent news from the Indian press has suggested that Nokia is in talks with Indian operators regarding supply deals for rural 4G expansion.
According to a report in India’s Economic Times, these discussions are taking place now and align with the DoT’s plan to connect over 40,000 Indian villages by 2022. Sanjay Malik, head of Nokia India, is quoted as saying that rural expansion will happen before commercial 5G rollout, although he adds that talks with operators about virtualising the core network in readiness for 5G are also ongoing.
He also noted that Nokia has already managed to secure 61 new contracts from mobile operators, internet service providers, cable operators and enterprises in the first half of 2019, more than in the first half of 2018.
This is perhaps surprising given continuing competitive pressure – on India’s mobile operators in particular. Nevertheless, Malik said that 4G investments by telcos to build capacity and coverage have contributed most towards Nokia’s business this year.
The company has also created a partner ecosystem for India-specific 5G use cases, in areas as diverse as healthcare, education, public safety, agriculture and industry, and is currently in talks with carriers to further test these use cases and evaluate commercial feasibility in the country.
Given the uncertainty over Huawei’s involvement in 5G rollout, it may not be surprising that Nokia is attracting interest from operators, although, as we have reported, there is as yet no clear indication that Huawei’s position in India is under threat.