BENGALURU (Reuters) – Indian telecom service provider Reliance Jio has chosen Nokia as a major supplier, the Finnish telecom equipment maker said on Monday, as India’s biggest mobile carrier gears up to expand next-generation wireless services across the country.
Nokia will supply Reliance Jio, which has more than 420 million customers, with 5G radio access network (RAN) equipment in a multi-year deal, the company said in a statement.
“Nokia will supply equipment from its AirScale portfolio, including base stations, high-capacity 5G Massive MIMO antennas, and Remote Radio Heads to support different spectrum bands, and self-organizing network software,” it said.
5G data speeds in India are expected to be about 10 times faster than those of 4G, with the network seen as vital for emerging technologies like self-driving cars and artificial intelligence.
Reliance snapped up airwaves worth $11 billion in a $19 billion 5G spectrum auction in August and had launched 5G services in select cities. It is also working with Alphabet Inc’s Google to launch a budget 5G smartphone.
As India’s telecom service providers roll out 5G services, the government is also pushing top mobile phone manufacturers, like Apple Inc, Samsung and others, to prioritise rolling out software upgrades to support 5G, amid concerns that many of their models are not ready for the high-speed service.
The Reliance-Nokia deal comes at a time when some governments, including India, have either banned or discouraged the use of China’s Huawei in national networks.
“Jio is committed to continuously investing in the latest network technologies to enhance the experience of all of its customers,” Akash Ambani, chairman of Reliance Jio, said.
Meanwhile, Reliance Jio is planning to raise an additional $1.5 billion via external commercial borrowings to fund its 5G capital expenditure plans, the Economic Times newspaper reported, citing sources.
(Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza)