Nokia is currently in discussions to replace Huawei 4G gear in Vodafone Idea’s network in India, a potentially large contract for the Finnish vendor.
Sources speaking to Reuters said the deal will see Nokia rolling out 12,000 5G-ready radio sites and 4,000 small cells in the capital city of Dehli, for the operator.
Operators in the country have been reducing purchases from Huawei due to security concerns. Experts say other operators may follow Vodafone Idea's hardline move, which would further dent the company’s plans to sell more gear in the Indian market.
Western countries have notably banned the vendor from their networks including the US, the UK and Sweden. The company has been accused of providing backdoors into operator infrastructure for espionage, Huawei has long denied it is a security risk.
"Unfortunately, there is no choice but to move out of Huawei because of the security concerns and government pressure," said Vivekanand Subbaraman, a telecom analyst at India's Ambit Capital. "Those concerns are not something you can wish away."
Nokia has previously been selected to replace Huawei gear for operators including BT, Orange Belgium and Proximus.
Huawei and Nokia declined to comment.
Although the Indian government has not banned Chinese firms from bidding for contracts, Huawei was not included on an approved list of providers to carry out 5G trials despite the company’s status among telecoms equipment vendors.
According to research company Dell’Oro, Huawei has a 29% share of the global telecoms equipment market, while its closest rivals Nokia and Ericsson possess 15% each.
This follows from reports of Cisco replacing its Chinese made equipment to set up manufacturing hubs in India itself.