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Huawei bags Rs 150 crore network upgradation contract from Bharti Airtel

Chinese gear maker Huawei has bagged a telecom infrastructure expansion contract worth Rs 150 crore from India’s second largest telecom operator, Bharti Airtel, multiple people aware of the development said.

The deal given to Huawei is part of an ongoing Airtel process to upgrade and expand its National Long Distance (NLD) network which is currently run by the Chinese vendor. Notably, Airtel had last year awarded a similar contract to Huawei worth Rs 300 crore.

People familiar with the deal said that Airtel gave the new purchase order under the existing regulations mandated by the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS).

The contract comes as a respite for the Chinese company which is facing huge uncertainty over its continued involvement in the Indian telecom market, especially its participation in the upcoming 5G network deployments in the country, due to allegations of its involvement in cyber-snooping on behalf of the Chinese state. Huawei has denied any wrongdoing.

The pressure on Huawei has increased over the last year or so amidst escalating Sino-Indian border tensions and question marks over its supply chain given US sanctions. In this backdrop, Huawei has been losing meaningful wireless business from even Bharti Airtel over the last 15-18 months with India’s second largest telco replacing it with European vendors in two circles.

Vodafone Idea has given a small expansion contract to ZTE for similar expansion worth $2 million. Sources said that Huawei didn’t pick purchase orders from Vodafone Idea due to payment-related issues.

NLD optical transport network is considered to be the crucial part of a telco’s network as it carries inter-circle and international traffic and helps manage the network capacity. It also carries internet traffic and traffic from main landing stations.

Sources added that both telecom operators are giving new purchase orders for network upgradation and expansion after taking approval from the authorities at a time when the NSCS hasn’t given any “trusted product” approval to any company.

Notably, telecom gear makers like Nokia, Cisco, Ciena, Tejas and HFCL recently got trusted sources nod from the designated authorities whereas Huawei and ZTE were in the process to complete the documentation process to be eligible for the approval for new deployment in the country. Fast Times

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