Ericsson said on Wednesday it had won a $1.3 billion network expansion contract from top Indian operator Bharti Airtel, its third major order in three days, and its largest deal in eight months.

Ericsson said it will expand and upgrade Bharti Airtel's GSM network in 15 of India's 22 telecom circles during 2010-2011.

In addition, Ericsson will ensure that Bharti Airtel's core and transport network is 3G-ready in order to reduce time to market and enable the fast rollout of 3G services at a later date, Ericsson said in a statement.

Nokia's NSN unit in February won a $700 million deal for the remaining circles.

The deal boosted shares in Ericsson 0.8 percent to 74.70 crowns by 0810 GMT, outperforming slightly firmer European technology shares.

It is clear the deal on the screen helps to create a positive sentiment, said analyst Hakan Wranne from Swedbank.

The telecom equipment market has seen cut-throat competition for new business during the past few years, driven by Asian vendors, and the outlook remains tough.

Ericsson, the world's top mobile telecoms gear firm on Monday signed two deals with China's top operators -- a $1 billion deal with China Mobile and an $800 million contract with China Unicom.

Ericsson's last deal larger than $1.3 billion was an up to $5 billion services contract with Sprint, unveiled last July. [ID:nN09472369] (Reporting by Helena Soderpalm, Tarmo Virki and Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by David Holmes and Rupert Winchester)