In a strategic move to meet the escalating demands of the 5G era and burgeoning broadband connectivity in India, Nokia has joined forces with Bharti Airtel for a significant overhaul of the optical network infrastructure. The project aims to deliver ‘massive capacity,’ enhanced reliability, and cost efficiency for enterprises, operators, and hyperscalers in the region.

The surge in 5G adoption and the growing need for widespread broadband connectivity have placed increased pressure on operators to augment backhaul transport for denser 5G mobile networks. Additionally, there is a rising demand for wholesale connectivity in emerging segments like smart grids, data center interconnect (DCI), and various business services.

Nokia will undertake the upgrade of Bharti’s legacy transport switching infrastructure, utilizing its cutting-edge 1830 PSS-x OTN switches in the National Long-Distance Network that links major cities across the country. The revamped transport networks are set to elevate overall transport capacity and bandwidth efficiency through ‘high capacity OTN switching’ and harnessing additional spectrum, including the L-band wavelengths of the fiber.

Chandan Kumar, Head of Optical Network Business Centre for Nokia India, expressed confidence in Nokia’s role as a world leader in OTN, emphasizing that their technology will empower Airtel to meet the escalating bandwidth demands driven by the enterprise and hyperscaler segments. The increased capacity is poised to enable Bharti Airtel to potentially offer faster and more reliable broadband services, positioning them for new and evolving use cases.

Earlier this year, Bharti Airtel announced a significant milestone, connecting over 20 million IoT devices via its B2B division, Airtel Business. The company has secured notable partnerships, including deals with Secure Meters, TP Western Odisha Distribution Limited, and Matter Motor Works for the deployment of smart meters and cellular IoT connectivity.

Against the backdrop of these developments, India’s operators have made significant strides in 5G deployment, with 300,000 5G sites rolled out since the technology’s launch in October of the previous year, as announced by the country’s telecoms minister in August.