Bharti Airtel signed up Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung as vendor partners for its 5G deployment, following the completion of India’s recent spectrum auction.
Airtel, India's second-largest operator, spent just under US$5.5 billion in the highly anticipated auction.
Nokia detailed its deal is multi-year which will supply the operator with its AirScale portfolio including high capacity 5G massive MIMO radios, covering “approximately 45 per cent market share”.
Nokia president and CEO Pekka Lundmark said: “This landmark deal reinforces our long-standing partnership with Bharti Airtel. We are delighted that they have chosen Nokia's best-in-class AirScale baseband and radio portfolio to deliver superior 5G performance in one of the world's largest networks. I look forward to our continued successful long-term collaboration in this vital and dynamic market.”
Ericsson said in a separate statement it bagged the first 5G contract from the operator and expects deployment to begin this month.
The Swedish vendor has supplied Airtel for over 25 years throughout every mobile generation. The company detailed Airtel will to deploy its power-efficient 5G RAN equipment, and connect 12 locations to Bharti Airtel’s 5G network.
Ericsson President and CEO Börje Ekholm said: “We look forward to supporting Bharti Airtel with its deployment of 5G in India. With Ericsson’s unrivalled global 5G deployment experience, we will help Bharti Airtel to deliver the full benefits of 5G to Indian consumers and enterprises, while seamlessly evolving the Bharti network from 4G to 5G. 5G will enable India to realize its Digital India vision and foster inclusive development of the country.”
Bharti Airtel also signed up Samsung for the first time as a vendor partner. Paul Cheun, Samsung Electronics president and head of networks business said: “5G will have a powerful impact on India’s consumers and businesses—taking mobile experiences to a new level, introducing a gamut of enhanced capabilities and expanding what is possible.
"As a global leader in 5G, Samsung is excited to embark on this 5G journey with Airtel to deliver innovative solutions that will help advance India’s entrepreneurial spirit and open up a new paradigm for the country."
Bharti Airtel MD and CEO Gopal Vittal added: “Airtel is investing in the right areas and working with the right partners to serve our customers even better.”