Airtel and Nokia sign billion-dollar, multi-year network capacity deal

Airtel and Nokia sign billion-dollar, multi-year network capacity deal

Nokia and Bharti Airtel have announced a multi-year agreement worth in the region of US$1 billion to deploy Nokia’s SRAN solution across 9 circles in India.

The deal will help Airtel to enhance the capacity of its networks, in particular for 4G, as well as improve customer experience. The rollout, which will also lay the foundation for providing 5G connectivity in the future, will see approximately 300,000 radio units deployed across several spectrum bands, including 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2300 MHz, and is expected to be completed by 2022.

Nokia’s equipment will give Airtel the best possible platform for when 5G networks launch across the country, with low latency and faster speeds. RootMetrics – the independent network performance testing company – has acknowledged Nokia as an LTE market leader based on its performance, factoring in network speed, reliability and data performance.

India is the second largest telecoms market in the world and is expected to reach 920 million unique mobile customers by 2025. According to the GSMA, this will also include 88 million 5G connections. The country is experiencing a massive increase in demand for data services, with Nokia’s MBiT Index 2020 showing a 47% increase in traffic throughout 2019.

Nokia’s SRAN solution will help Airtel to address this growing demand by adding network capacity and ensuring a superior quality of experience to its customers.

The solution helps operators to manage their 2G, 3G and 4G networks from one platform in order to reduce network complexity, increase cost efficiencies, and future-proof investment. Nokia will be the sole provider of SRAN in these 9 circles. The deal will also include Nokia’s RAN equipment, including its AirScale Radio Access, AirScale BaseBand and NetAct OSS solution, which will help Airtel to monitor and manage its network effectively. Nokia Global Services will also play a crucial role in the installation, planning and deployment of the project, which will be executed via the cloud-based Nokia Delivery Platform.

Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO (India and South Asia) at Bharti Airtel, said: “We are committed to continuously invest in emerging network technologies to provide a best-in-class experience to our customers. This initiative with Nokia is a major step in this direction. We have been working with Nokia for more than a decade now and are delighted to use Nokia’s SRAN products in further improving the capacity and coverage of our network as we prepare for the 5G era.” 

Rajeev Suri, President and Chief Executive Officer at Nokia, commented: “This is an important agreement for the future of connectivity in one of the world’s largest telecoms markets and solidifies our position in India. 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.” 


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