Ceragon CEO Ira Palti on Monday said in the third quarter earnings call that Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel continued with their network expansion plans “even under COVID.” Palti said that the largest wireless operator in India and the second largest wireless operator in India were both “fully operational” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ceragon Networks, a company that offers wireless backhaul and fronthaul solutions on Monday reported “strong revenues” in its third quarter results for the period ended September 30, 2020. The company registered a US$70.6 million in revenues in its third quarter as compared to US$62.4 million in revenues in its previous quarter.
Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel Were Fully Operational Under COVID
Palti said that Ceragon has been running at “full speed” since India lifted its lockdown restrictions at the beginning of August.
“We're running full speed both in delivery of equipment and delivery in the field and doing installations,” Palti said in the third quarter earnings call.
In late April, it was announced that Bharti Airtel had picked Ceragon products and services for “additional 4G network Expansion” from the first quarter of 2020. In a release, it was said that Airtel was looking to “increase its network capacity to address growing demand for broadband amidst sharp rise in data consumption” across the country. It was also highlighted that the operator with Ceragon’s solutions can “quickly respond to surge in network capacity demands, and prepare for long-term network capacity growth.”
“Both Jio and Bharti continued moving ahead with the plans even under COVID," Palti said. "They were fully operational. We saw both the relevant bookings and we saw the relevant orders and the minute that everything was lifted up, we got a huge pressure to help and do the deployment.”
Vodafone Idea Remains Big Question Mark for Ceragon
Crucially, Palti said that Ceragon expects the bookings and the deployments to “continue at the current run rate” till early or even late 2021.
“I do expect this to continue at the current run rate probably into first or maybe all of next year, as really they build up the network, there is a certain speed out there,” Palti said. “The only big question mark is a customer of ours, which we haven't worked with for a while, which is Vodafone in India, which is going under significant changes.”
Palti said that the Vodafone Idea has not been “investing in the network for quite a while” and that Ceragon is “waiting to see” how the operator runs its business in the days ahead. Further, Palti also highlighted that Vodafone Idea “predominantly” used Huawei equipment and that the recent limitations on Chinese vendors in India would force the operator to look for alternate vendors.
“I think we're in a good position,” Palti said. “But let's wait and see until they [Vodafone Idea] make their decisions. I think they have issues before that, which have to do with the financing and getting the financing in place and then I think we're in a good running position there.”
Palti also highlighted that Huawei had a 20% to 25% telecom equipment market share in India and that Cergaon picked “some of that share already” with its deals with Bharti Airtel.