Ericsson in talks with Vodafone Idea for potential 5G deal: Report

Vodafone Idea said it aims to launch its 5G network this year

Swedish vendor Ericsson is currently in discussions with Indian operator Vodafone Idea with the aim of securing new orders for 4G and 5G equipment, according to Indian press reports.

“Vodafone Idea is our partner and we are in discussions with them. We are hopeful that when they launch 5G, we will be supporting them in their rollouts,” Nitin Bansal, managing director of Ericsson India was quoted as saying.

Vodafone Idea is expected to launch its 5G network this year and is currently in negotiations with vendors for 5G contracts. Recent reports stated that Vodafone Idea was also having talks with Finnish vendor Nokia. The telco additionally aims to expand its current 4G network to be in a better position to compete with rival telcos Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio Infocomm.

Last month, Vodafone Idea said it has concluded its $2.16 billion follow-on public offer (FPO). Vodafone Idea has also recently raised about $648.5 million from 74 anchor investors. Vodafone Idea recently said it expects to use the equity and debt funding to deploy its 5G service across India within six to seven months of securing the funds; it was also seeking funds to bolster its 4G network and pay tower vendors.

According to the report, Nokia supplies the gear for Vodafone Idea’s 4G service in nine telecom circles across India, while Ericsson provides the 4G equipment in eight circles. Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE also supply 4G equipment for Vodafone Idea.

“We are still very confident about the Indian market. It’s very important for us. Looking at the uptake in the number of subscribers and the data growth, it still looks positive. I don’t expect the same level of rollout being repeated that we saw last year, but it’s going to be positive in India,” the report quoted Bansal as saying.

“The requirements for 5G are more than what we have seen in the past. Now, it’s about video experience, gaming experience, fixed wireless access. So, you need functionalities in the network to deliver the best performance,” the Ericsson executive added.

Commenting about the upcoming spectrum auction scheduled for next month, Bansal said that Ericsson will focus on discussions with operators once the process finishes.

Ericsson is also working with domestic operators to create new use cases within the country with the main aim of helping operators to capitalize on their investments in the 5G field.

“Currently, for 5G, the focus has been on mobile broadband and Fixed Wireless Acces (FWA) s and they are performing well. We will continue to give ideas. There is a focus from the government also on use cases and they have developed 5G testbeds for 5G use cases,” said Bansal.

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