Finnish telecom gear maker Nokia has pipped arch rival Ericsson to secure a three-year 4G network deployment contract from India's second-largest telecom operator Vodafone for three of its most lucrative circles, a person familiar with the matter told The Economic Times.
He, however, did not share the value of the contract for the three circles -Mumbai, Kolkata and Punjab.
"These three circles are new wins for Nokia, where Ericsson deployed older technology network for Vodafone India. Nokia will initially deploy limited 4G sites in these circles," the person said, requesting anonymity.
Mumbai and Kolkata circles are part of Vodafone's first phase 4G launch while the Punjab circle will see future deployment by Nokia that will support 2G to 4G technologies, as per Vodafone's strategy.
Vodafone had acquired liberalised spectrum in the 1800 MHz band in Punjab in the February 2014 auctions.
It offers only 2G services in the Punjab circle, while 3G services are being offered in an agreement with Idea Cellular.
Both Nokia and Vodafone India declined to comment on the development.
Currently, Nokia manages a majority of telecom circles of Vodafone India in the country, and also possesses the largest share of their 3G networks in the country, the person said.
Vodafone, which has already launched services in select towns of Kerala and Karnataka circles, will increase the intensity of its 4G rollout covering important metros - Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Kolkata before March 2016, under the first phase of 4G launch in India.
Vodafone has launched 4G high-speed data services on the 1800 MHz band using the FDD-LTE technology, and is also looking at improving the 3G experience for its customers in these circles.
The telco also awarded contract to Chinese equipment vendor Huawei for the deployment of 4G network in Karnataka and Kerala telecom circles. Huawei also bagged 4G contract from Idea Cellular, which recently launched 4G services in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana, for the deployment of the 4G equipment in Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Orissa circles, ET earlier reported.
Nokia, in January 2015, bagged 4G network deployment deal from India's leading telco, Bharti Airtel for six circles--Andhra Pradesh, North East (7 states), Punjab, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, and Karnataka. The deal then marked India's first FDD-LTE deployment on 1800 MHz. Nokia, which also supplies Bharti Airtel's TD-LTE network, then won TD-LTE on the 2300 MHz in Mumbai and Kerala circles.
Indian mobile operators are bracing for even more competition in an already cutthroat market as Reliance Jio Infocomm, the telecoms unit of conglomerate Reliance Industries, is getting ready to launch commercial 4G broadband services this year.