Swedish telecom gear maker Ericsson has bagged a $500-million (Rs 3,350 crore) contract from India's top telecom service provider Bharti Airtel to manage its 2G, 3G, 4G LTE networks in all 22 circles across the country, reports quoting sources close to the matter said.
Bharti Airtel has already awarded a 4G network deployment deal to Finnish telecom gear maker Nokia in three new circles in addition to six circles it already serves. Ericsson too deployed 4G networks for Airtel in a few circles, including Delhi, according to the report.
For Ericsson, which also manages Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications' (RCOM) pan-India network under a seven-year full-scope managed services agreement worth $1 billion and provides services to India's third largest telecom operator, Idea Cellular, the Bharti Airtel deal will make the largest vender of managed services in the country.
Bharti Airtel has over 259.9 million subscribers in the country (as of 30 September 2016).
Ericsson signed the deal with Reliance Communications' (RCOM) in December 2014 after exited Alcatel-Lucent, now owned by Nokia.
Ericsson already provides services to Bharti Airtel in 15 telecom circles and it has now won a few more circles from the telco.
As per terms of the deal, Ericsson will assume responsibility for field maintenance, network operations, network optimisation, passive maintenance for Airtel owned sites and will manage over 1,50,000 sites physical sites, along with 1,50,000 logical sites across the country.
Reports said both Airtel and Ericsson are currently working towards formalisation of the new contract, which includes transition of Nokia employees. ''Ericsson is likely to take over from Nokia in new circles around December-January period,'' the report said.
For Ericsson India, which reported a 28-per cent drop in its July-September 2016 revenue to $292 million (nearly Rs1,890 crore) due to the delay in spectrum auctions, which hurt mobile broadband investments, the new contract comes as a boon.
Ericsson had reported a 24 per cent revenue dip in the April-June quarter also.
Ericsson currently provides managed service Idea Cellular, in five circles, and to Aircel in six circles. It had earlier this year won a managed services contract from Vodafone India to manage its optical fiber cable network for three years in 10 telecom circles. The contract covers operation and maintenance of the optical fiber cable network.
Earlier this year, the gear vendor also bagged 4G network deployment and 2G and 3G networks transformation contracts from Idea Cellular, covering select telecom circles which serve over 40 million subscribers.