US$2 billion contract offered for Indian TD-LTE deployment

A potential contract for the rollout of an Indian startup’s proposed TD-LTE network could end up being the largest network equipment deal that the country has seen thus far.

Infotel Broadband, which is owned by Reliance Industries, has invited a number of vendors, including Nokia Siemens Networks, Ericsson, Huawei and Alcatel-Lucent, to “demonstrate their LTE capability” by rolling out a nationwide TD-LTE network; the contract itself is likely to be worth over US$2 billion.

Reports indicate that Samsung has also been tapped for potential bulk orders of tablet PCs, including its Galaxy Tab. The operator is also negotiating the lease of 60,000 mast towers for the initial stage of its nationwide launch, which aims to encompass 700 cities.

No timeframe has been outlined for the beginning of the rollout, but vendors have mooted a window of the next three to four months as being likely, while services may well have launched in places by the end of 2011.

Following its acquisition last year of a pan-India Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) licence, Infotel was bought by Reliance Industries. Last year, Infotel began trialling TD-LTE over its spectrum despite the fact that it was designed for WiMAX; the fact that the operator is now attempting to select a vendor with suitable TD-LTE expertise is “a clear reflection that it has finally abandoned any plan to launch its services on the WIMAX platform”, according to reports.

Infotel may face competition in the TD-LTE arena from Qualcomm, which also holds a BWA spectrum licence and is preparing for its own network build-out.

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