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Nokia Engaged in Talks with Vofafone Idea over 5G Rollout: Report

2023-03-17 12:04:00| Source:RCRWireless

The head of Nokia’s unit in India said that Vodafone Idea is in ongoing talks with local banks to obtain funds for 5G deployments

Finnish vendor Nokia is engaged in initial talks with Indian telco Vodafone Idea for the potential supply of 5G gear, Indian newspaper The Economic Times reported, citing Nokia India’s head Sanjay Malik.

“We are very well engaged with them [Vodafone Idea] on the 4G rollout and then on 5G. Yes, some initial discussions have started but negotiations have not started yet,” Malik said.

He also said that the carrier is in ongoing talks with local banks to obtain funds for 5G deployments.

Commenting on the current 5G deployment in India, being carried out by local carriers Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio Infocomm, Malik noted that mobile traffic is starting to migrate from 4G to 5G networks. “As of now, the 5G device penetration is in single digits, but during this year, penetration will go up significantly,” he said.

Malik also noted that Nokia is seeing a huge demand for future 5G FWA deployments in the Indian market.

Vodafone Idea’s CEO Akshaya Moondra recently said during a conference call with investors that the carrier is currently in advanced talks with telecom equipment vendors for its 5G rollout strategy.

“We have live 5G clusters in Delhi and Pune where we have partnered with various OEMs to test compatibility of available 5G handsets. Further, we are in advanced stages of discussion with various network vendors for finalization of the rollout strategy,” Moondra had said.

In the auction which ended on August 1, 2022 Vodafone Idea acquired 5G spectrum in the 3.3 GHz and 26 GHz 5G bands.

Earlier this year, it was confirmed that the Indian government has finally secured a 33% stake in Vodafone Idea, which has been struggling to pay off its debt of INR2.2 trillion ($26.6 billion) as of September 2022. Vodafone idea is controlled by Vodafone Group and Aditya Birla Group.

On September 15, 2021, the government had announced a package offering local providers the option to convert the interest of INR161.33 billion from deferred dues to equity. While the offer was extended to all service providers, it was chiefly aimed at saving Vodafone Idea from bankruptcy, according to previous reports.

According to previous reports, the government has been assured by Vodafone and Aditya Birla Group that they remain committed to the carrier, and will bring in the funds necessary to service its upcoming debt obligations, and finance the expansion of its 4G network infrastructure and its 5G deployment.

Rival operators Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio Infocomm are rapidly deploying 5G infrastructure at a national level. Currently, Reliance Jio is rolling out 5G on 700 MHz and 3.3 GHz bands while Bharti Airtel is deploying 5G technology via the 3.3 GHz spectrum band. Jio is offering 5G services via Standalone (SA) architecture, while Airtel is using a NonStandalone (NSA) architecture.

Meanwhile, state-run operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) could launch 5G services by March 2024, according to recent press reports.