Nokia clinches US$1 bil deal with India’s Airtel

HELSINKI: Finnish network equipment maker Nokia has secured a multi-year contract to boost the capacity of one of India’s largest mobile operators, the firm announced on Tuesday.

The deal, which an industry source told AFP is valued at almost US$1 billion, will see Nokia deploy 300,000 new radio units across the country by 2022, boosting network capacity and preparing the ground for the move to next-generation 5G, Nokia said in a statement.

“This is an important agreement for the future of connectivity in one of the world’s largest telecoms markets and solidifies our position in India,” outgoing CEO Rajeev Suri said.

With a population of 1.3 billion, India is the world’s second-largest telecoms market, which Nokia predicts will grow to 920 million unique mobile customers within five years as online demand soars.

The deal comes after a punishing six months for the Finnish networks giant after it downgraded its 2020 earnings forecast last October as attempts to break into the 5G equipment market faltered in the face of fierce competition from Huawei and Ericsson.

Nokia went on to beat expectations in a “challenging” 2019 and in February posted its first full-year net profit since 2015 of €7 million, before announcing a change of CEO in March.

Earlier this month Nokia’s share price surged 12.5% based on media reports that the firm was raising finance against a hostile takeover bid, a claim the equipment maker refused to comment on.