UNITECH WIRELESS AWARDS $500M NETWORK CONTRACT TO ERICSSON

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UNITECH Wireless, a joint venture between Norwegian telco Telenor and Gurgaon-based realty firm Unitech, has awarded a $500 million (Rs 2,500 crore) contract to Swedish firm Ericsson to supply and manage all network equipment for its rollout of mobile phone services in three telecom circles.

Ericsson will be responsible for managing the network for five years in service areas of Bihar, Eastern and Western Uttar Pradesh, said a Unitech Wireless executive, who asked not to be named. Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks were the front-runners for the contract. Unitech Wireless, which is 67% owned by Telenor, has licences to operate in all 22 telecom circles across the country. The company will miss the July deadline for the launch of its telecom services, as it still doesn't have the infrastructure in place. "We have tied up for towers and equipment. But our marketing and distribution set up is still not in place," said Unitech Wireless chairman Sanjay Chandra. The services will be launched by the year-end, he said. Ericsson operates in 175 countries and reported a revenue of $27 billion in 2008. It builds and manages the networks of Bharti Airtel in large parts of the country. Earlier, Unitech had awarded a fiveyear equipment supply and management contracts to French telco Alcatel-Lucent for about $150 million for Kerala and Orissa. Unitech's $225 million contract for Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu circles had gone to Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer Huwaei. Unitech Wireless recently awarded a nine-year IT outsourcing contract to Bangalore-based Wipro for around Rs 2,500 crore. It has also signed an agreement with Tata Teleservices for the sharing of towers.

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