Under the agreement, announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the companies will collaborate to deploy a network spanning 130,000km.
The network deployment, which the companies said will be one of the world's largest photonic control plane deployments, forms part of Airtel's Project Leap network transformation program.
Airtel plans to use the network to serve exploding demand for high-speed data services, and to enable the delivery of high-speed broadband to end users over 4G/5G/FTTH architectures.
For retail and enterprise customers, the network will also support bandwidth on demand, optical VPNs, latency based routing and dynamic data center interconnection.
Airtel CTO Randeep Sekhon said the backbone architecture will be capable of working with data rates of 400Gbps and higher, and delivering low-latency software-controlled connectivity for cloud infrastructure.
“Airtel has always pioneered the introduction of cutting-edge network technologies to serve its customers. We are pleased to work with Ciena to build one of world’s largest optical spine and leaf networks, which is also a big step towards 5G readiness by leveraging our huge fiber assets,” he said.
“This will not only scale our network for massive capacity but also protect traffic and enhance service delivery to all our customers. It will also help Airtel further strengthen its position as a key enabler of digital experiences in an increasingly connected world.”