Ericsson bags $2 bn Bharti deal

The telephone services giant says it has awarded its largest network expansion deal so far to Ericsson to help expand its reach in rural India, reports Narayanan Madhavan.
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Updated on Jul 18, 2007 11:05 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByNarayanan Madhavan, New Delhi

Telephone services giant Bharti Airtel Ltd said on Wednesday that it had awarded its largest network expansion deal so far to Sweden’s Ericsson, the world’s leading wireless equipment maker, to help expand its reach in rural India. The deal is worth $2 billion.

The contract is for GSM (global system for mobile communications) and cover EDGE technologies that allow higher-bandwidth services a notch below the third-generation (3G) services that enable services like stock trading and mobile TV on handsets.

Ericsson has been a strategic partner of Bharti Airtel since 1995, and manages around 70 per cent of its GSM/EDGE network in 15 circles in India.

“Under the two-year supply and services contract, Ericsson will design, plan, deploy, optimise and manage Bharti Airtel’s GSM network across 15 circles in India as well as for its pan-India prepaid (IN) platform across 23 circles,” Bharti said in a statement.

Nokia Siemens Networks and Alcatel-Lucent are among those competing with Ericsson in the Indian market, which is one of the world’s hottest for telephone services, and therefore, equipment.

In August last year, Ericsson had won a $1 billion, three-year contract from Bharti to manage the design, development and deployment of its network to help rural expansion.

Earlier this month, Bharti gave a $900 million order to Nokia Siemens Networks to expand its wireless networks in the eight zones where Ericsson was not given the deal.

“The state-of-the-art network will further allow us to offer more innovative products and solutions in the areas of voice and data like community-based charging, location based services and enterprise VPN (virtual private network) services,” said Manoj Kohli, Bharti Airtel’s president and chief executive officer. “Bharti and Ericsson is also looking at forming a focus group to work on energy optimisation by way of introducing energy efficient equipment and alternate energy sources" he added.

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