NEW DELHI: Vodafone India has awarded a 4G deployment contract worth $300 million (about Rs 2,040 crore) to Swedish gear maker Ericsson for UP West, Rajasthan, Odisha, North East and Assam telecom zones, people familiar with the matter said.
“The deployment of 4G LTE network is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2017. Ericsson, under this contract, is deploying its full radio system portfolio that offers 50% improved energy efficiency,” said one of the persons, who did not wish to be identified. Queries emailed by ET to Ericsson and Vodafone India did not elicit any response till late evening on Tuesday.
Vodafone India, the domestic arm of the British telecom firm, which is expediting its network expansion and ramping up capacities to counter bigger rival Bharti Airtel and the 4G entrant Reliance Jio, is currently in talks with Aditya Birla Groupowned Idea Cellular for a potential equal merger. Vodafone India and Idea Cellular have common network equipment and managed services vendors.
The proposed merger could lead to realignments of existing contracts with their respective partners, industry analysts said. Both the telcos may have to renegotiate some vendor contracts to optimise network and bring in operational efficiency on a circle-to-circle basis, they said. The two companies had bought spectrum in the 2016 auctions.
Vodafone India has given network rollout contracts for all its 4G circles, including a 4G LTE deployment and expansion deal worth ¤450-500 million (about Rs 3,650 crore) to Nokia covering 10 circles and a similar contract to Huawei in Karnataka, Kerala and Delhi circles. Vodafone also awarded a multi-year managed services contract, worth ¤200 million (about Rs 1,420 crore) to Nokia, covering several telecom circles.
It had last year awarded a three-year managed services and network operations contract worth $180-220 million to Huawei in some circles, ET had earlier reported.
The telecom carriers will have to choose between vendors running parallel service and supply contracts, so as to keep one network. They may even redistribute geographies between suppliers, a senior executive at one of the tower providers recently told ET. Vodafone India has already launched 4G services across all 17 circles planned and it is now rapidly expanding 4G footprint within these circles.