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Aircel Preps 3G Vendor News

10:00 AM -- Aircel Ltd. -- India's seventh-largest operator, with more than 45 million customers -- is set to announce Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) as its 3G vendor partners, according to industry sources.

Aircel, which won 3G spectrum in 13 circles (service areas) in the auction earlier this year, is "likely to allot four circles to Huawei and the rest to Ericsson," an industry source told Light Reading Asia on condition of anonymity. (See India's 3G Auction Ends, Raises $14.6B.)

The operator is due to make an official announcement any day now.

Aircel has previously said it plans to spend $500 million on its 3G rollout during the first year, and plans to launch its services in early 2011. (See Aircel Earmarks $500M for 3G.)

Huawei is already a 2G supplier to Aircel, alongside Nokia Networks and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763), which will both be disappointed if they're not included in the operator's 3G plans.

If Aircel does pick Ericsson and Huawei, it will strengthen both vendors' positions in the Indian 3G market. Huawei has already landed 3G deals with Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL), Reliance Communications Ltd. , and Tata Teleservices Ltd. , while Ericsson has bagged 3G deals from Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India . (See Tata Eyes India's 3G Gold Medal , India's Vodafone Essar Names 3G Suppliers, More 3G Action in India, Huawei Bags India 3G Deal, and India's 3G Equipment Market a 'Bloodbath'.)

— Gagandeep Kaur, India Editor, Light Reading

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