Pressure to reduce costs and return to profitability during the current economic downturn has forced Nokia Corp. to slash 1,800 jobs in its network infrastructure division, the cell phone equipment manufacturer said Thursday.

The division, which manufactures cell phone infrastructure equipment such as base stations and mobile switching centres, posted a substantial first-quarter loss this year, Nokia of Espoo, Finland, said in a statement.

Many of Nokia’s mobile operator customers have cut investment in new equipment in a move to reduce their heavy debt loads, after sinking billions of euros in pricey third-generation (3G) licenses.

Of the 1,800 planned job cuts, around 1,100 will be in Finland, according to the statement. That’s a blow to a company that has created thousands of new jobs in the country’s high-tech sector.

Additionally, Nokia will review the costs, scope and number of programs in its research and development activities in the network division, with the aim of reducing the number of product lines to adjust to the current market situation, the company said.