Sealing its largest network deal to date, Swedish equipment maker Ericsson agreed to expand and upgrade the GSM wireless network operated by Bharti Airtel, India’s largest mobile phone service provider, in accordance with a two-year contract valued at U.S. $2 billion. Currently, Bharti serves 40.74 million wireless customers in a rapidly growing Indian wireless market that is adding subscribers at a breathtaking rate of 6 million per month. Sources estimate that total wireless subscribership in India will reach the 500 million mark within a few years. A strategic partner of Bharti since 1995, Ericsson currently manages 70% of Bharti’s GSM network facilities in 15 circles throughout India. Under the deal announced this month, Ericsson will optimize existing GSM facilities within the 15 circles and throughout Bharti’s pre-paid service platform spanning 23 circles. Ericsson will also provide pan-India integrated device management solutions that will enable the delivery of advanced voice and data services across retail and enterprise segments. As Ericsson India managing director Mats Granyard praised the contract as “an important part of realizing Bharti’s vision of a converged network and of expanding coverage in rural India to launch innovative voice and data services,” Bharti Enterprises Group managing director Akil Gupta observed that the deal provides “clear testimony to the big growth that is taking place in this market.”