Airtel, Jio select 5G gear partners, doors shut on Chinese vendors

However, Airtel and Jio have not submitted purchase orders (POs) for network equipment, which will depend on the amount of 5G spectrum they obtain. Inquiries f

Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio Infocom are believed to have finalised their 5G equipment partners, awarded contracts to Finland's Nokia, Sweden's Ericsson and Korea's Samsung, and formally banned Chinese suppliers Huawei and ZTE from launching next-generation technology. As 5G auctions draw to a close, carriers are lining up providers to make sure they can get their high-speed networks up and running.

People familiar with the matter said cash-strapped Vodafone Idea is still in talks with European providers over 5G contracts. They added that the loss-making telco will initially place orders for apartments where it had a revenue market share of 15% or more.

Yet to Place Purchase Orders

These are Metro Plus category circles. In particular, European vendors are set to supply mobile equipment to the Mukesh Ambani-led telecommunications company for the first time. Until now, Jio has only worked with Samsung for its 4G network. Samsung will supply Airtel with mobile network equipment for the first time. While Airtel is expected to order 15,000 to 20,000 5G sites in the initial phase to cover larger cities, Jio is expected to place a much larger order to cover more cities than its competitors, People said.

However, Airtel and Jio have not submitted purchase orders (POs) for network equipment, which will depend on the amount of 5G spectrum they obtain.

Inquiries from the aforementioned entities have not been answered.

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A senior Bharti Airtel executive has separately confirmed deals with Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung. "Airtel will place purchase orders for all suppliers," the executive said.

In order to ensure that Airtel can get the best 5G equipment costs, it has also terminated South Korean provider Samsung along with its long-standing partners Nokia and Ericsson.

One person added that China's Huawei and ZTE will be phased out of Airtel's 4G network, to be replaced by the three providers.

“Jio has managed to secure a rate from Ericsson, which is lower than Airtel,” said a person familiar with the discussions, adding that final lines are currently being discussed.

A third person said that integration with gear from European vendors is possible with Samsung 4G, so Jio chose 5G equipment from the Korean company.

“Nokia and Ericsson's 5G equipment is better than Samsung's in terms of performance quality,” he said, adding that European providers are bold in terms of markups as they aim to enter the Jio network.

People familiar with the matter said Jio's purchase order for Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson may be much higher than orders with Nokia and Samsung.

Telecom operators will initially target dense, urban areas with their commercial 5G services.

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