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Airtel Signs $230M Deal With Nokia to Deploy 4G in 9 Circles To Stave Off Jio Threat

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Airtel Mobile Prepaid New offers Plans

As Reliance Jio progressives towards the next step of roll out in January 2017, Airtel and Vodafone are prepping up with their exciting offers to lure customers. As mobile data demand in increasing every in India, it has become important for telcos to expand to regions untapped currently.

This time, Nokia has bagged the deal with Bharti Airtel to deploy 4G services in 9 circles, for an estimated cost of $230 million. This comes only a few days after Vodafone signed a 3-year contract with Huawei to provide managed services in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Chennai and Orissa circles, and network operations in Delhi and Andhra Pradesh Circles.

Bharti Airtel said in a statement, “We are pleased to continue to leverage Nokia’s leading radio access technology and services expertise to expand 4G capacity and coverage and further increase the quality of service for subscribers.”

These nine circles are Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Mumbai, Maharashtra, Kerala and UP East, and you should look forward to hearing from Airtel soon in the major cities in these states.

Out of the 9 circles, Airtel already has operations in 6 circles and it plans to upgrade those to high-speed internet technology soon. The other 3 circles will soon get 4G network with the help of Nokia. Airtel also plans to offer other video and music services in addition high-speed internet and calling.

Sanjay Malik, Head of India market at Nokia said, “We have a long history of working with Bharti Airtel and with this latest agreement we have become the largest supplier of 4G for the company. This network expansion will provide the capacity, coverage and speeds the company needs to meet the next wave of data demand in India.”

How will Nokia help Bharti Airtel to take on Jio and Vodafone?

Nokia will be responsible for deploying its 4G FDD-LTE & TD-LTE technology across nine of Bharti Airtel’s circles in India. If you are not aware, Nokia has conducted 5G trials as well, so it has immense expertise in the area of telecommunications.

Apart from 4G services, Nokia will also provide management of 3G services and expansion in certain untapped areas. Network integration and network planning and optimization will also be taken care of by the company for Airtel.

Interestingly, Nokia was managing the contract for Vodafone before the deal went to Huawei. This bring the two telecoms Airtel and Vodafone on direct competition as their vendors, Nokia and Huawei, become competitors too.

Reliance Jio’s 4G LTE disruption has been attributed to the fact that the prices are kept very low and there are no direct competitors in the market yet. Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular are doing damage control now but Jio has already topped the charts in customer acquisition.

Mukesh Ambani, MD at Reliance Industries Ltd., has invested strongly into Jio and Nokia’s deal with Airtel might be a worry to Reliance Jio. Nokia has strong expertise in the LTE technology and the partnership could vastly improve the services in India.

As Airtel invests in this project, Airtel Open network can be used to test the network quality in your area and see it improve over the years. Let’s wait and see how Vodafone responds to this partnership.

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