Ericsson eyes VoLTE contracts in India by year end
Ericsson expects to win a few Voice over LTE (VoLTE) contracts in India by this year end, using similar deployments in advanced markets such as Japan, South Korea and North America, and added that the upcoming spectrum sale will drive more network investments next fiscal.

“We are working hard on it, and hope to get new deals during this year,” Paolo Colella, head of Region, Ericsson India, told ET. Ericsson’s arch rival Nokia has managed to grab all the initial VoLTE contracts in India — from Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India.

While the Jio contract is for a pan-India deployment, the deals from leading two telcos — Airtel and Vodafone — are smaller in nature and are focused on a few tier-1 service areas.

In a VoLTE scenario, voice calls, typically, will be provisioned over a 4G LTE data network, instead of the circuit switched 2G or 3G networks which are commonly used. The VoLTE technology allows voice to become just another app that rides on an LTE data network.

Besides VoLTE, Colella said that other areas such as mobile broadband, telecom services, OSS/BSS, IP transport are likely to grow in the next fiscal starting April 1, given telcos’ investment plans for 3G and 4G deployments. He also feels that the upcoming spectrum auction likely in June-July will also drive telcos’ network investments in India.

“Operator investments will remain at least the same pace as last year with continued focus on deployment of 3G and 4G,” he said. India is considering putting up for sale airwaves in the traditional 850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz bands. Besides, the sector regulator wants the government to also auction the most efficient but expensive 700 MHz band, used for 4G.

“There is a big demand emerging in the market as smartphone penetration reaches 100 million. We have been surprised by the availability of more and more 4G smartphones at decent prices, and this will further accelerate demand for mobile broadband,” he said. “So the operators will continue to roll out.”
Ericsson, which is working with Jio on the OSS front, expects to further deepen its ties with the telecom operator, which is likely to launch commercial services around April.

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