Bharti Airtel (Airtel) had a successful trial of India’s first 5G private network at Bosch Automotive Electronics India (RBAI) facility in Bengaluru. Airtel’s on-premise 5G captive private network was built over the trial 5G spectrum allocated by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

According to sources, Airtel is in talks with at least two other manufacturers – one in the automobile sector in Maharashtra (most likely Mahindra & Mahindra) and another in mobile handset manufacturing in Tamil Nadu – for providing similar 5G captive private network.

This is an interesting development as the company, along with other telcos like Reliance Jio and Vodafone-Idea, is opposing private technology companies’ bidding for upcoming 5G spectrum auctions and bands meant for private captive networks. On Thursday, the Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI), that represents Airtel and other incumbent operators, had urged the government for fair play to prevent ‘back door entry’ to big tech for 5G.

Meanwhile, Airtel said it has implemented two Industrial grade use cases for quality improvement and operational efficiency at Bosch’s manufacturing facility, utilising the trial spectrum. In both the cases, 5G technology such as mobile broadband and ultra reliable low latency communications drove automated operations ensuring faster scale up and reduced downtimes.

Greater realiability, flexibility

The private network set up on trial spectrum has the capability to manage thousands of connected devices along with delivering multi- GBPS throughput, the company said. The private 5G network provides greater reliability, enhanced security and flexibility, freeing the operations from wire-dependency to enable Bosch in achieving the benefits of automated operations, it added.

“Airtel is committed to India’s digital transformation and supporting the development of its enterprise as they seek to acquire global scale. We believe that Airtel has the world class infrastructure, partnerships and expertise to deliver captive private network solution in any part of the country and to enterprise of any size,” Ajay Chitkara, Director and Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Business said.

Airtel is testing various vertical industry use cases with multiple partners and at several locations as a part of its #5GforBusiness. Last year, the company successfully demonstrated India’s first 5G experience over a live 4G network in Hyderabad. It has also demonstrated India’s first rural 5G trial as well as the first cloud gaming experience on 5G. The company has joined forces with leading global consulting and technology companies and brands to test 5G based solutions.

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