Nokia Solutions to upgrade Vodafone India Networks

Nokia Solutions & Networks has received a contract to upgrade and modernise Vodafone India’s existing second- and third-generation network, even as the Finnish telecom equipment supplier scouts for deals covering fourth-generation mobile technologies in India.

The five-year deal covers 19 out of the 22 telecom circles where Vodafone India provides 2G services and six of the nine circles where it has 3G licences. The work on deploying single radio access network (RAN) to modernise and expand Vodafone’s existing radio network will start soon, Nokia Solutions said in an emailed response to questions from ET.

The company didn’t reveal the value of the contract. Vodafone India confirmed the contract, but declined to disclose financial terms. People familiar with the matter had earlier told ET that the contract could be worth nearly $200 million (Rs 1,225 crore). “The single RAN offers a base station box which can be used across multiple technologies, going from GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) to WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) to LTE (Long term Evolution) with software changes,” Sandeep Girotra, Nokia Solutions’ India head, said in an interview.

The Vodafone contract comes after nine India deals in 2013 for a leaner Nokia Solutions, which has over the past couple of years shed workforce and hived off six businesses including IPTV and microwave to focus on mobile broadband. The company has also come through a tough period for network gear makers in India reflecting the turmoil in the country’s telecom sector, which was mired in cut-throat competition and policy uncertainties that hurt revenue and profitability at operators who in turn cut down on investment.

But the recent successful auction of telecom bandwidth has boosted expectations again. “The market conditions in the Indian telecom industry continue to be challenging, but with the recent spectrum auctions, there is uplift in sentiments among operators ,” Girotra said. With Vodafone India announcing investments as part of Project Spring and Uninor saying that it will invest more than Rs 500 crore to upgrade its 2G network in 2014, “others are not going to be left behind. That’s a positive sign,” he added.

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