Reliance Jio, the country’s largest telecom service provider, on Monday awarded long-term contracts to global device makers Ericsson and Nokia to roll out its stand-alone 5G network.
Although the companies did not disclose contract values, industry estimates put the total value at around $3 billion, split equally between the two suppliers.
In August, Bharti Airtel awarded similar contracts to Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung to roll out its 5G network. The value is estimated to be similar.
Jio is likely to award another contract to South Korean giant Samsung, which has built its 4G network.
The development strongly suggests that Chinese vendors such as Huawei will not be part of the country’s 5G network.
Under the agreement, Ericsson will deploy its energy-efficient 5G radio access network products and solutions for Jio’s 5G network deployment, while Nokia will supply equipment such as base stations, high-capacity 5G Massive MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) antennas, and remote radio heads to support various spectrum band and network software.
Ericsson and Nokia would be paid upon reaching certain milestones set by the telecom service provider. The structure of the contract includes construction, operation and maintenance of the network.
Jio’s core network is already live and is built by the company itself. Once these radios are placed on towers, 5G coverage will expand.
Jio has already started a beta trial of its 5G services in four cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Varanasi. The company said its 5G services will be available across India by December 2023 at a total cost 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 digitization and serve as the foundation for achieving our country’s vision of ‘Digital India,'” Akash Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Jio said.
Unlike its counterparts Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, Jio is deploying its 5G network on a stand-alone architecture, which it calls a “true 5G” solution. In a stand-alone 5G architecture, the deployed network is independent of the 4G network. According to experts, the stand-alone architecture currently does not have a developed ecosystem, but every telecom operator would eventually have to switch to this architecture to unleash various 5G use cases and provide users with the optimal experience of the new technology.
According to Jio, the deployment of its stand-alone 5G network represents a major technological leap as it upgrades the network infrastructure to deliver a transformative 5G experience with advanced features to consumers and businesses.
For Ericsson and Nokia, India is one of the biggest markets in terms of business opportunities.
“India is building a world-class digital infrastructure that will drive innovation, job creation and entrepreneurship across the country. We are delighted to partner with Jio in these ambitions through Ericsson’s standalone 5G connectivity, which will be a major catalyst in delivering on these digital transformation goals across society, enterprise and industry,” Borje Ekholm, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ericsson. , he 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 their trust in our technology and look forward to a long and productive partnership with them,” said Pekka Lundmark, President and CEO, Nokia.
Currently, only limited users can enjoy 5G services, as phone manufacturers have not yet rolled out the required software updates to 5G-enabled devices. At the same time, telecommunications operators are working to expand the coverage of 5G networks across cities. FE