Uninor, the Indian unit of Norwegian telecom major Telenor, has awarded a contract worth Rs 1,200 crore to Chinese firm Huawei to modernise and manage its network across six circles in India within a three-year time frame.
“We have extended our partnership with Huawei to modernise our network by making it future-ready as well as manage it. We will be investing Rs 1,200 crore in this project," said Vivek Sood, chief executive of Telewings Communications Services, which operates under Uninor brand.
While the modernisation project will also enable the company to make its network 4G-ready, Sood said a decision on 4G rollout would be taken “when the need arises”.
According to the deal, Huawei India will modernise Uninor’s entire telecom network across six telecom circles with 24,000 base stations. Currently, Uninor operates in the circles of UP (West), UP (East), Bihar (including Jharkhand), Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Gujarat. It will soon start operations in the Assam circle.
Under the contract, Huawei will also become the managed services partner of Uninor. “This is the largest deal of its kind in the Indian telecom industry and also within the Telenor Group. Our managed services function will move to Huawei by the end of this year. With this initiative, Uninor prepares for future to offer advanced internet services to the mass market customers,” said Tanveer Mohammad, chief operating officer, Telewings.
The project will start this year with modernisation of 5,000 mobile tower sites. The remaining 19,000 sites will be modernised in 2016. “By 2017, we will move completely to IP (internet protocol) network and will be ready to embrace big data era.
Through our network, we will be able to figure real time need of customers,” said Mohammad.
Uninor will also install small mobile sites closer to customers to reduce gap in its network coverage.
Uninor had won spectrum for Assam circle in February 2014. However, it is yet to launch services as the approval for wireless frequencies for back-end network is yet to come the Department of Telecommunications.
“We expect regulatory approval to come by the end of this year, after which we will launch Assam operations,” said Sood.
The company has about 40 million mobile customers in India, out of which 26 per cent are active internet users.
Baker Zhou, vice-president of Huawei, said: “Huawei will bring its end-to-end network backbone elements to the project. This includes environment-friendly green solutions that would lower power consumption by almost 30 per cent and increase spectral efficiency.”
Upon completion of the project, Uninor expects to reduce carbon emission from its network in India by 30 per cent.