Reliance Communications has awarded a $1-billion network outsourcing contract to telecom equipment manufacturer Alcatel-Lucent.

Under the eight-year deal, Paris-headquartered Alcatel-Lucent will manage Reliance Communications’ (RCom) entire network — wireless, fixed line and data — in eastern and southern India, up to 2020.

“The key thing is that we are moving from the voice era to the data era, and customers are unforgiving when it comes to call drops or lapses. This tie-up will help us provide consistent service quality across networks, as customers use multiple devices and platforms,” said Gurdeep Singh, Chief Executive Officer (Wireless Business), RCom.

MANPOWER SHIFT

For RCom, the deal signifies a single vendor participation for both technology and devices, as compared with more than 100 that it deals with now. It would also help in cutting costs.

Around 4,000 people, roughly 15 per of RCom’s total manpower, are to be shifted to Alcatel-Lucent as part of the deal.

“The contract is for five years and extendable by another three years on mutual agreement,” Alcatel-Lucent India’s President and Managing Director Munish Seth said. “This deal helps us bring in new technologies, processes, skills and new tools. The scope itself, in these two regions, is much higher in magnitude of what we do today. It’s huge and vast. There are different types of technologies we are going to manage now,” Seth said.

Alcatel-Lucent will set up and operate next-generation operations support systems (OSS) and introduce advanced real-time optimisation tools to improve network performance.

In 2008, the companies had entered into a five-year, $750-million network outsourcing deal. However, the contract was only for wireless network optimisation. The new contract includes managing wireless, wired, fibre, enterprise and data connectivity networks, among others.

SIMILAR DEAL IN PIPELINE

RCom, controlled by Anil Ambani, is also close to signing a similar contract within a couple of months.

“We are looking at a similar deal, and hope to sign it within a couple of months,” RCom’s Singh said, without divulging further details.

As of November, RCom had about 134 million subscribers.

rajesh.kurup@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 16, 2013)
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