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Nokia wins 900-million-dollar contract from India's largest mobile phone operator

Finland-based Nokia Siemens Networks has won a US$900 million (EUR 660 million) contract from India's largest mobile phone operator, Bharti Airtel Ltd., to help expand its communications network, both companies said Thursday.

Under the two-year contract, Nokia Siemens Networks will install 1.8 million ports and also set up an international calling card prepaid service that will help the Indian company add 4.5 million new customers, a joint statement said.

Nokia Siemens Networks is a joint venture between Finland's Nokia Corp. and Germany's Siemens AG.

"Bharti Airtel is undertaking a massive expansion and integration exercise across its mobile and fixed (landline) networks to significantly augment its service delivery capacity," Manoj Kohli, the company's president, said in the statement.

Nokia Siemens will help in Bharti Airtel's business expansion programs in eight service zones, the statement said. India's telecommunications sector is spread over 23 service zones.

"We are honored to be awarded this ... contract," Simon Wylie, chief executive of Nokia Siemens, said in the statement. He said the contract will help Bharti Airtel "tap new market opportunities driven by convergence, optimize network performance and costs and continue to grow market share."

Over the past year, India has emerged the world's fastest growing mobile phone market, adding nearly 6 million new connections every month.

In May, Nokia Siemens won a similar contract valued at US$500 million from another leading Indian mobile phone company, Mumbai-based Idea Cellular Ltd.

The rapid expansion of the country's telecom sector has created new opportunities for companies with expertise in building communication infrastructure and encouraged them to expand operations here.

On Monday, Nokia Siemens said it would invest US$100 million to build a manufacturing plant for wireless network equipment in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and expand its research center in the city of Bangalore.