While everyone expected Reliance Jio to first launch 5G services in India, Bharti Airtel, on Thursday (January 28), announced that it has become the first telecom service provider in India to successfully “demonstrate and orchestrate” live 5G services.
The demonstration took place in the city of Hyderabad, where the company used its existing liberalised spectrum in the 1800 MHz band through the NSA (non-standalone) network technology to concurrently run 5G and 4G network within the same spectrum block.
The company believes that demonstration has validated the 5G readiness of Airtel’s network across all domains — Radio, Core and Transport — and underlined its technological capabilities.
Airtel claims its 5G network is capable of delivering 10x download and upload speeds, 10x latency and 100x concurrency when compared to existing technologies. Specifically, in Hyderabad, users were able to download a full-length movie in seconds on a 5G phone.
“Every one of our investments is future-proofed as this game-changing test in Hyderabad proves… We believe India has the potential to become a global hub for 5G innovation. To make that happen we need the ecosystem to come together – applications, devices and network innovation. We are more than ready to do our bit,” Bharti Airtel CEO and MD Gopal Vittal said.
However, the company noted that the full impact of the spectrum will be available once the adequate spectrums are available and the government has approved of the technology. The fifth generation network was expected to be launched in India by 2020, but the government has not yet set a date for the spectrum auction.
Meanwhile, Airtel’s rival Reliance Jio, which was the first one to have developed 5G technology in India from scratch, had reached out to DoT last year seeking 5G spectrum last year even though there was no official announcement for an auction.
It has applied for 800 megahertz (MHz) spectrum each in both the millimeters — 26 gigahertz (GHz) and 24 GHz — wave mmWave band as well as 100 MHz in the 3.5 GHz band for field trials in few metro cities.
The company has promised to offer 5G speeds and services on its wireless network as early as this year as it has already started advance tests to prepare the fifth-generation and high-speed network. However, this plan too is hinged on the government’s decision to conduct the 5G spectrum auction.