Ericsson and Nokia are said to have assured key customers, Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel, of speedy 5G network roll-out after spectrum allocation, in a scenario where China’s Huawei is barred on security grounds from supplying 5G equipment in India, individuals familiar with the issue said.
Any potential exclusion of Huawei is likely to open up large revenue opportunities for both European vendors who have upped their score in lobbying to step into the shoes of the Chinese 5G equipment maker, although they would have to stave off a Samsung challenge that will also attempt to fill any potential gap created if Huawei is excluded.
However, analysts said that the absence of Huawei could delay 5G deployments by at least one year in addition to rising deployment expenses as the exclusion of a significant worldwide network supplier would shock competition and increase the cost of telecommunications procurement.
“Ericsson has the resources and the capacity of the supply chain to meet a rapid increase in market demand as 5G is introduced globally, including India, and we are ready to meet and work with our current and future customers’ 5G requirements to get such networks operational at the earliest chance,” a Ericsson spokesman informed ET.
A senior Nokia executive, in turn, said it is confident that with its leadership in 4G and transportation network solutions in India, it will support Indian telcos in implementing their 5G policies as well.
“In calendar 2018, Nokia deployed more than 1.3 lakh new sites across India, and with our huge deployment machinery, we are ready to support our customers in launching 5G networks as quickly as possible,” a Nokia spokeswoman said.
Analysts estimate that a telco typically needs to invest around $5 billion (Rs 35,000 crore) for a selective 5G rollout, and any potential exclusion of Huawei from selling 5G equipment in India could move up the $750-$1 billion (Rs 5,250-7,000 crore) cost of deployment.