Bharti Airtel pips RJio to announce 5G readiness

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 28, 2021 Published on January 28, 2021

Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, Airtel

Demonstrates live network in Hyderabad

Bharti Airtel on Thursday said it is 5G ready and now awaits government approval and spectrum availability for the services. The company has become the country’s first telco to successfully demonstrate a live 5G service, doing so over a commercial network in Hyderabad.

“We've been working at this for the last one year to make sure we are able to demonstrate to ourselves and to the world at large, that our network is fully 5G ready. And in many ways now, it's a flick of a button to actually turn on 5G,” said Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, Airtel.

The company partnered with Ericsson to demonstrate the service with around 20 devices of Chinese handset maker Oppo. “We need to get the right 5G experience, for which adequate spectrum and the right bands need to be made available. But today, we've conclusively demonstrated Airtel is 5G ready,” he said.

According to analysts, Airtel is aiming to position itself as the lead 5G service provider before Reliance Jio makes a move. Mukesh Ambani, Chairman, Jio, had announced that the company would launch 5G services using its own technology in the second half of 2021.

Airtel carried out the demonstration over its existing liberalised spectrum in the 1800 MHz band through the Non Stand Alone network technology.

“Using a first of its kind, dynamic spectrum sharing, Airtel seamlessly operated 5G and 4G concurrently within the same spectrum block. This demonstration has emphatically validated the 5G readiness of Airtel’s network across all domains — radio, core and transport,” the company said.

Airtel 5G is capable of delivering 10x speeds, 10x latency and 100x concurrency. In Hyderabad, users were able to download a full length movie in a matter of seconds on a 5G phone, the company said.

“Every one of our investments is future proofed as this game changing test in Hyderabad proves. With Airtel being the first operator to demonstrate this capability, we have shown again that we have always been the first in India to pioneer new technologies in our quest for empowering Indians everywhere,” Vittal said.

Price points

Asked if Airtel will charge premium rates for its 5G services, Vittal said it is too early, but added that the average revenue per user in India ‘is blissfully low and does need to rise...first it needs to go up to ₹200, then finally up to ₹300 over a period of time’.

“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,” he further added.

“We need to get the right 5G experience, for which adequate spectrum and the right bands need to be made available.”

Gopal Vittal MD and CEO, Airtel




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Published on January 28, 2021
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