Reliance Jio, India’s largest mobile carrier, has chosen Nokia as a major supplier, the Finnish telecom equipment maker announced on Monday, as the country’s largest mobile carrier prepares to expand next-generation wireless services across the country.
Nokia said in a statement that it will supply 5G radio access network (RAN) equipment to Reliance Jio, which has over 420 million customers, in a multi-year deal.
“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,” the company said.
In India, 5G data speeds are expected to be roughly ten times faster than 4G, with the network seen as critical for emerging technologies such as self-driving cars and artificial intelligence.
In August, Reliance purchased $11 billion in airwaves in a $19 billion 5G spectrum auction and launched 5G services in select cities. It is also collaborating with Alphabet’s Google to build a low-cost 5G smartphone.
Since India’s telecom service providers roll out 5G services, the government is also pressuring top mobile phone manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, and others to prioritize 5G software upgrades, despite concerns that many of their models are not ready for high-speed service.
The Reliance-Nokia agreement comes at a time when some governments, including India’s, have either barred or discouraged the use of Huawei in national networks.
“Jio is committed to continuously investing in the latest network technologies to enhance the experience of all of its customers,” said Akash Ambani, chairman of Reliance Jio.
Besides that, 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.