India's fast-developing 4G ecosystem has become a major battleground for the world's biggest vendors of mobile network equipment. As operators get ready to roll out and expand the availability of 4G services, vendors are fighting it out for the next phase of work.
With the much-awaited commercial launch of Reliance Jio 's 4G network, the country's 4G market is set to move to a new level of competition. Light Reading takes stock of how the vendors have performed in India so far.
Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has landed contracts with Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL), Reliance Jio and Videocon Telecommunications Ltd. . Bharti Airtel, India's largest service provider, commissioned Nokia in January 2015 to expand its 4G network in six circles (service areas).
"The deal marks India's first FDD-LTE (frequency division duplex-long term evolution) deployment on 1800MHz that will witness the launch of super-fast mobile broadband in six circles," the original statement read. "Nokia, already a supplier of Bharti Airtel's TD-LTE (time division-long term evolution) network, will also deploy TD-LTE on 2300MHz in two other circles."
Nokia and Bharti Airtel also made the first 4G call using circuit-switched fallback (CSFB) on 2300MHz-based TD-LTE technology in Pune, in the west of the country.
According to media reports, Nokia is also believed to have secured a major deal with new entrant Reliance Jio to roll out IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) technology, needed to support voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services. This deal is believed to be worth around $100 million.
The company has also won business with Videocon in six circles. However, Videocon recently announced a spectrum-sharing deal in two circles with Idea Cellular Ltd. , India's third-biggest mobile operator, casting some doubt over the status of this contract.
South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) is thought to have scooped a huge deal with RJio for the rollout of a commercial 4G network. According to some media reports, the company may even have picked up a radio access network contract covering the entire country, although there has been no official word on this.
Since Samsung is not engaged with any other telco in India, Reliance Jio is critical to its fortunes. Success here could lead to more 4G business for the South Korean player in future.
Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) bagged a four-year 4G network rollout contract in Delhi and four other circles with Bharti Airtel last year. The company is also believed to have landed a WiFi deal with RJio.
Chinese equipment maker Huawei is thought to have won a contract with Vodafone India for the supply of basestations for a 4G network in Karnataka and Kerala circles. Huawei has also deployed basestations for Bharti Airtel in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, two of that operator's most important service areas. The service provider is already offering 4G services in nearly 300 towns and cities.
Idea Cellular, which has launched 4G services in 100 towns and cities across India, is believed to be another customer of Huawei.
All of the 4G work in Aircel Ltd. 's seven circles has gone to ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763), Huawei's smaller Chinese rival. ZTE also appears to have picked up work with Bharti Airtel in Kolkata. But the company has hardly been aggressive in the Indian market and is focusing largely on the devices segment.
— Gagandeep Kaur, contributing editor, special to Light Reading