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Nokia to scale up mfg in India by 1.5x to support its 5G service rollout

Telecom gear maker Nokia will enhance its manufacturing capacity in the country by 1.5x over the next few years to support the 5G service rollout, the company’s India head of mobile networks business Tarun Chhabra said in New Delhi.

Nokia is supplying radio access networks to Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio for their 5G networks from its plant in Chennai. Vodafone Idea is yet to finalise its contract as it awaits fresh funding.

“We have been preparing ourselves for 5G deployment in India for more than a year – whether it is upskilling our people, increasing production or hiring the right talent. With the huge demand for equipment coming up from India we will need to ramp up manufacturing to meet this requirement. We could be looking at an enhanced production capacity of 1.5x in the next few years,” Chhabra said on the sidelines of the India Mobile Congress.

“We have invested over Rs 600 crore to manufacture telecom products worth Rs 3500 crore annually with over 50 per cent for export,” Chhabra added.

Work on expanding the manufacturing facility in Chennai is already underway and more production lines will be added at the plant. Ramp up is expected from the first quarter of calendar year 2023 and will gradually increase to 1.5x times of the current level based on requirements.

Bharti Airtel has already started 5G service in eight cities and aims to expand the coverage across India by March 2024. Reliance Jio will begin its roll out in metros by Diwali and will extend the network to the entire country by December 2023. 5G rollout in the country is expected to be amongst the fastest in the world with affordable tariffs and desire among people to embrace the new technology. India is expected to have over 300 million 5G subscribers by the end of 2026.

The pandemic has also accelerated the use of automation at Nokia making site integration and software upgrades quicker than usual. While installation of sites happens on location they are being integrated to the network remotely through a central location bringing saving time and cost. “Our focus is on automation of services to be more efficient,” Chhabra said.

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