5G network rollout: Nokia, Ericsson bag Jio’s $3-bn contracts

Reliance Jio, the country’s largest telecom service provider, on Monday awarded long-term contracts to global gear makers Ericsson and Nokia to roll out its standalone 5G network.

Though the value of the contracts was not disclosed by the companies, industry estimates have pegged the total value around $3 billion, divided equally between the two vendors.

In August, Bharti Airtel had awarded similar contracts to Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung for rolling out its 5G network. The value is estimated to be similar.

Going ahead, Jio is likely to award one more contract to South Korean major Samsung, which has built its 4G network.

The developments conclusively show that Chinese vendors like Huawei are not going to be part of the country’s 5G network.

As per the contract, Ericsson will deploy its energy-efficient 5G radio access network products and solutions for Jio’s 5G network rollout, whereas Nokia will supply equipment such as base stations, high-capacity 5G Massive MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) antennas, and remote radio heads to support different spectrum bands, and network software.

Ericsson and Nokia would be paid upon achievement of certain milestones laid down by the telecom service provider. The structure of the contract involves building, operating and maintaining the network.

Jio’s core network is already up and running, built by the company itself. Once these radios are put on the towers, the 5G coverage will get enhanced.

Jio has already started beta trial of its 5G services in four cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Varanasi. It has said that its 5G services will be available on a pan-India basis by December 2023 at a total outlay of $2 trillion.

“Jio transformed the digital landscape in India with the launch of LTE (4G) services in 2016. We are confident that Jio’s 5G network will accelerate India’s digitalisation and will serve as the foundation for achieving our nation’s ‘Digital India’ vision,” Akash Ambani, chairman of Reliance Jio, said.

Unlike its peers Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, Jio is deploying its 5G network on standalone architecture, which it calls a ‘true 5G’ solution. In standalone 5G architecture, the network deployed is independent of the 4G network. According to experts, the standalone architecture does not have a developed ecosystem at present but every telco would have to switch to this architecture eventually to unleash the varied use cases of 5G and give an optimum experience of the new technology to the users.

According to Jio, its standalone 5G network deployment represents a major technology leap as it modernises the network infrastructure to deliver a transformative 5G experience to consumers and enterprises with advanced features.

For Ericsson and Nokia, India is one of the top markets in terms of business opportunity.

“India is building world-class digital infrastructure that will drive innovation, job creation and entrepreneurship across the country. We are happy to partner with Jio in those ambitions, through Ericsson 5G standalone connectivity, which will be a major catalyst in meeting those digital transformation goals across society, enterprise and industry,” Borje Ekholm, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Ericsson, said.

“This (deal with Jio) is a significant win for Nokia in an important market and a new customer with one of the largest RAN (radio access network) footprints in the world. This ambitious project will introduce millions of people across India to premium 5G services, enabled by our industry-leading AirScale portfolio. We are proud that Reliance Jio has placed its trust in our technology and we look forward to a long and productive partnership with them,” Pekka Lundmark, president and CEO at Nokia, said.

Currently, only limited users are able to use 5G services as handset makers are yet to launch the required software updates on the 5G-enabled devices. Simultaneously, the telecom operators are working to extend the coverage of 5G network across the cities. FE

Going ahead, Jio is likely to award one more contract to South Korean major Samsung, which has built its 4G network.

Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/technology/tech-news-technology/5g-network-rollout-nokia-ericsson-bag-jios-3-bn-contracts-8214676/

Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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