Airtel Is Now World’s 3rd Largest Telecom Company; Signs 4 Yr Contract With Nokia for 3G Implementation Across India


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Airtel has surpassed China Unicom to become World’s 3rd largest telecom company in the world, as per total number of subscribers & revenues. Compared to China Unicom’s 299.09 million users, Airtel has now 303 million customers.

Airtel released a statement: “As per the latest data published by WCIS (World Cellular Information Service), Airtel, with over 303 million mobile subscribers, across its operations, has moved up one position in the global rankings”

WCIS is a global telecom research tool powered by data analysis firm Informa Telecoms and Media (ITM) Research.

Out of 303 million customers of Bharti Airtel, 228.25 million are based in India, and the rest are from 17 countries in Africa, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. If we add Airtel’s DTH and DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) to this number, then the figure comfortably crosses 300 million.

Globally, #1 telecom company is still China Mobile, having 626.27 million customers. UK based Vodafone is at #2 with 440 million customers (including Indian operations).

Top 3 Telecom Operators in the World

Last year, Airtel successfully processed 1.23 trillion minutes of calls and 333 petabytes of data; as their massive network covered 1.85 billion people across 20 countries. Compared to Bharti Airtel’s revenue of 15 billion pounds posted last year, #2 ranked Vodafone had churned out 43 billion pounds of revenue globally.

Airtel-Nokia Deal For 3G Implementation

Meanwhile, the battle for mobile internet in India has intensified, as Airtel and Nokia signed a 4 year contract for 3G implementation across 5 telecom circles and expanding their existing network in 3 zones.

Sandeep Girotra, India head of Nokia Networks shared that the “strong traction in India’s 3G market, driven by rising demand for data-intensive apps and services, is the primary impetus behind Bharti Airtel’s 3G expansion initiatives”( with Nokia).

Under this agreement, Nokia will assist Airtel in rolling out 3G services, by providing:

  • Network Planning and Optimization
  • Network Implementation
  • Network Operations
  • Project Management & Care
  • Hardware, Software support and Competence Development

Airtel-Nokia deal will enable 3G to expand into some of the most populous regions of India, which includes Maharashtra and West Bengal.

Financial details of this partnership haven’t been disclosed yet.

Bharti Airtel Director of Network Services Group Abhay Savargaonkar said, “We are happy to further extend our long-term association with Nokia Networks towards innovating our network’s service delivery mechanism and deliver a host of multi-media apps as well as services for Airtel customers,”

It becomes more interesting due to the fact that Airtel has already signed a similar contract with Mukesh Ambani led Reliance Jio.

In 2013, Airtel and Reliance Jio joined hands to share infrastructure and telecom assets for 2G, 3G and 4G services. As per the joint statement issued at that time, Reliance Jio was allowed to access Bharti Airtel’s nationwide optical fibre network and towers by paying a service fee. And on the other hand, Airtel was allowed to use some of the 3G and 4G licenses owned by Reliance Jio.

On the other hand, Reliance Jio has already contracted Nokia for expanding their 3G and 4G network in some key locations.

With the 4G battle about to start, Nokia-Airtel partnership, Airtel-Reliance Jio partnership (for 3G) and Reliance Jio-Nokia partnership creates some interesting scenarios (for example, if Airtel and Reliance Jio are partners, then how will they compete for 4G market?).

None the less, its certainly good news for mobile users, and digital and mobile entrepreneurs in India because better the network, more are the prospects of higher usage and higher digital/mobile transactions.

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