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Why India Could Be Huge for Nokia’s 5G Business

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Strong demand for faster mobile connections in India

Nokia (NOK) is planning to begin 5G network field trials in India before the end of the year, according to a report from the Economic Times. In its latest report on mobile broadband performance in India, Nokia says that mobile data consumption in India increased 109% in 2018 with 92% of the traffic running on the faster 4G networks. Only 8.0% of mobile data traffic in India ran on 3G networks last year. There were 432 million 4G data users in India at the end of 2018. Video is by far the largest mobile data consumption driver in India.

5G technology promises ultrafast connections over mobile networks with speeds that are up to 100 times faster than 4G. Therefore, Indian consumers’ growing appetite for faster mobile connections is just what Nokia needs to create demand for its 5G equipment in the country.

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Vendors gearing up for 5G field tests in India

Besides Nokia, Ericsson (ERIC), Samsung (SSNLF), and Cisco Systems (CSCO) are the other major network equipment vendors that have been cleared by the regulator to conduct 5G field trials in India. What has held them back from completing trials is the delay in 5G spectrum allocation for the field tests.

In India and elsewhere around the world, Nokia, Ericsson, and Samsung are pursuing contracts from mobile operators for 5G equipment. In their chase for 5G contracts, these vendors typically start building relationships with potential customers through collaborations with operators in 5G trials. Nokia is already undertaking 5G technology lab trials in India in partnership with mobile operators Bharti Airtel and Bharat Sanchar Nigam. Last year, Nokia secured a $3.5 billion 5G deal with T-Mobile (TMUS), one of America’s top mobile operators.

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