Nokia set to replace Huawei devices in parts of Vodafone Idea’s Indian network: sources

Telecom operators in India have reduced their reliance on Huawei following certain security concerns

Telecom operators in India have reduced their reliance on Huawei following certain security concerns

Nokia is in talks to replace Huawei 4G radios from parts of Vodafone Idea’s telecom network in India, in one of the largest swap deals for the Finnish company, three sources familiar with the matter said.

The deal will see Nokia deploy 12,000 5G-enabled radio sites and 4,000 small cells on Vodafone Idea’s network in India’s capital Delhi, the sources said.

Telecom operators in India have reduced their reliance on Huawei after certain security concerns, and Vodafone Idea’s move is a blow to Huawei’s prospects in the country, telecom experts said, adding that more operators may choose to hire the Chinese company as a supplier substitute.

Huawei said the company does not comment on specific projects. Nokia declined to comment, while Vodafone Idea did not respond to requests for comment.

Several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Sweden, have blocked operators from using Huawei-made devices over security concerns. Huawei denies that it is a security risk.

“Unfortunately, due to security concerns and government pressure, there is no choice but to leave Huawei,” said Vivekanand Subbaraman, telecoms analyst at Ambit Capital in India.

“You can’t wish these concerns away.”

Vodafone Idea agreed in January to convert ether usage fees owed to the government into equity, giving the Indian state a 35.8% stake in the company.

Vodafone Group holds 28.5% and Aditya Birla Group 17.8%.

Although India has not banned Huawei, the country has not included Chinese companies, including Huawei, on the list of approved suppliers to conduct 5G trials. India is expected to auction 5G spectrum later this year.

In a swap deal, an operator changes an existing operator, and Nokia had previously replaced Huawei devices on operators including BT, Orange Belgium, Proximus in the UK, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Huawei supplies telecom equipment to both Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel, and the former is one of its biggest customers in India. Bharti Airtel also counts Ericsson among its suppliers.

“(The) Indian market is very complex with many challenges and we are closely monitoring the developments in this market,” Huawei said.

According to research firm Dell’Oro, Huawei has a 29% share of the global telecoms equipment market, followed by Nokia and Ericsson with 15% each.

Nokia’s equipment will allow Vodafone Idea to manage 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G networks from the same platform and deployment could start from next month, according to the sources.

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