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Uninor Gears Up Its 2G Network For 4G Services
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Uninor inks network expansion deal with Huawei worth Rs 1,200 crore, says Ashish Sinha
Uninor, the Indian arm of Norway-based telecom giant Telenor has done a big-bang deal to expand its network across its area of operations. Uninor or Wednesday (August 12, 2015) signed a a three-year 2G network expansion and transformation contract worth about Rs 1,200 crore with Chinese telecom gear maker Huawei.
The contract will enable Uninor to offer its existing network for 4G operations across the six circles - Uttar Pradesh East, Uttar Pradesh West, Bihar (including Jharkhand), Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
"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," Telewings Communications Services CEO Vivek Sood said.
Huawei has been tasked to transform around 24,000 sites of Uninor in these six major circles. Experts said the equipment supplied by Huawei will be able to transform Uninor’s 2G network into 4G ready network with some technical tweaks and upgrades, said a technical expert familiar with telecom equipment.
Market analysts see this as a major shift in the stance of Telenor who otherwise was working with Finland-based Nokia Networks for its 2G services. Nokia Networks currently deploying networks for Uninor's Assam circle, which is likely to start operations anytime this year.
“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," Telewings COO Tanveer Mohammad said. He said the project is starting this year with modernisation of 5,000 sites and the rest 19,000 mobile tower sites will be modernised in 2016.
"By 2017, we will move completely to IP network and will be ready to embrace big data era. Through our network we will be able to figure real time need of customers," Mohammad said.
Under the project, Uninor will install small mobile sites closer to customers to reduce gap in its network coverage. When asked if the company is looking to roll out 4G services, Sood said that it is still focusing on customers who need basic network and decision to roll out 4G will be taken when need arises. According to Sood, Uninor is looking at expanding services in other parts of the country but the final decision will depend on spectrum price and market scenario.
"As of now, we have plans for expansion within Bihar where we will increase mobile sites by 20% to improve outdoor coverage," Sood added.
Uninor has already been reported as saying it may introduce sophisticated services using 4G LTE technology. Under the unified licence regime, Uninor can offer 4G services using the existing spectrum in the 1800 MHz band as the unified licence allows airwaves to be used for offering any technology — 2G, 3G or 4G.
Uninor currently provides its services to over 46 million subscribers using 2G technology. It added 1.3 million subscribers during the second quarter ended June 30, and said the subscription base was 22% higher than the same quarter last year, reports said.
The company has already made it public that 26 per cent of its customers are active data users and it is targeting to convert half of its customer base into Internet users in next two years.