Nokia expects 5G contract closures with telcos soon after the spectrum auctions later this year, and is also in talks with enterprise customers for deals related to the next gen technology, its India head Sanjay Malik said. He added that the Finnish telecom gear maker has also started receiving some ‘trusted products’ approvals but wants some clarity around the design-led manufacturing scheme that the government is talking about.
“…there is definitely excitement with all the operators around 5G planning…the contract finalisation and the orders will flow only after the auctions get completed,” Sanjay Malik, head of India Market, Nokia told ET in an exclusive interaction.
Malik said that if the auction takes place around May-June period, then the initial 5G network rollouts can start in the second half of the year. The company had rolled out over 1,50,000 sites in India for its telecom operator partners for both capacity and coverage requirements in 2021.
The gear maker, which was approved under the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for telecom equipment, said that it has over achieved its first-year target under the scheme, which will help its second-year target.
“We have gone beyond radios and we have other products also getting manufactured here. We are looking at fixed, IP and optical products. Even on radio, we have added newer radio on newer bands and new tech technology combined with MIMO,” Malik said.
Nokia, which locally manufacturers telecom equipment in Chennai, wants India to consider attracting global telecom vendors to participate in the upcoming design-led 5G equipment manufacturing PLI scheme by giving clarity on preferential market access and intellectual property rights in the country.
“When you define the PLI scheme and at the same time the market access is not given, then we will have challenges from the perspective of a global company. The definition appears to be narrow and not conducive to the overall business here…it should be extended to get more players right into India,” Malik said.
The India head said that Nokia continues to roll out new broadband sites for cash-strapped telco partner, Vodafone Idea. “Even from last year’s perspective, we did roll out a new number of sites and expanded existing sites and even in last quarter, we have done business with them. Capacity and coverage expansions are happening”.
He said that initial 5G network roll out in India will be done with equipment from traditional vendors as OpenRAN technology is yet to reach the maturity level. “It is still a little away from the maturity level. Multi-vendor interoperability, end-to-end performance will be very critical for 5G. OpenRANhas to still incorporate all of these”.
He, however, said that Nokia is committed to the technology and has been contributing towards it through standards.
Nokia has been in talks with enterprises along with the telco partners for private networks related opportunities. Malik said that the company is neutral on the issue of 5G spectrum allocation to enterprises for private networks.
“…there are success stories on both sides where enterprises are provided with the spectrum or not…there are both these kinds of cases. it’s not necessary that to make the private entity successful there is one thing required or the other. We are kind of neutral on this particular topic and would leave that to the TRAI to finally take a final call on it,” he added.