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In a major landmark, Bharti Airtel (“Airtel”), India’s premier communications solutions provider, announced that it has become the country’s first telco to successfully demonstrate and orchestrate LIVE 5G service over a commercial network in Hyderabad city.

The stellar achievement of Airtel has made it first telecom company in the country to implement and demonstrate 5G wireless service ahead of other rivals like Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd and Vodofone-Idea which plans to launch the service later this year but hasn’t completed trials.

Airtel did this over its existing liberalised spectrum in the 1800 MHz band through the NSA (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.

Airtel 5G is capable of delivering 10x speeds, 10x latency and 100x concurrency when compared to existing technologies. Specifically, in Hyderabad, users were able to download a full length movie in a matter of seconds on a 5G phone. This demonstration has underlined the company’s technology capabilities. The full impact of the 5G experience, however, will be available to our customers, when adequate spectrum is available and government approvals received.

Commenting on the company’s achievement, Bharti Airtel Managing Director and CEO Gopal Vittal said he is very proud of the company’s engineers who have worked tirelessly to showcase this incredible capability in Tech City, Hyderabad.

“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,” said Gopal Vittal.

Bharti Airtel Managing Director and CEO also pointed out that the company believes that 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,” added Gopal Vittal.                 

Airtel is a global telecommunications company with operations in 18 countries across South Asia and Africa. The company ranks amongst the top three mobile operators globally and its mobile network covers a population of over two billion people. Airtel is India’s largest integrated telecom provider and the second-largest mobile operator in Africa. At the end of September 2020, Airtel had approx. 440 million customers across its operations. 

Airtel’s portfolio includes high speed 4G/4.5G mobile broadband, Airtel Xstream Fiber that promises speeds up to 1Gbps, converged digital TV solutions through the Airtel Xstream 4K Hybrid Box, digital payments through Airtel Payments Bank as well as an integrated suite of services across connectivity, collaboration, cloud and security that serves over one million businesses.  

Airtel’s OTT services include Airtel Thanks app for self-care, Airtel Xstream app for video, Wynk Music for entertainment and Airtel BlueJeans for video conferencing. In addition, Airtel has forged strategic partnerships with hundreds of companies across the world to enable the Airtel platform to deliver an array of consumer and enterprise services.

India is going through a telecom revolution as there is massive demand for data use among the next billion who are not yet onboarded on digital landscape. As part of the infrastucture development, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is expected to conduct the auction of 2,251MHz of spectrum at a reserve price of Rs 3.92 trillion from 1 March. Besides 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, the DoT put up for sale the bands like 1,800MHz, 2,100MHz, 2,300MHz and 2,500MHz. But it is interesting to note that the government did not include spectrum in the 3,300-3,600MHz bands recommended by the telecom regulator for 5G in the upcoming auction.

According to telecom analyst, telecom companies will have to incur huge capital capital expenditure for 5G deployment as the cost for spectrum, sites and fibre are expected to be in the band of Rs 1.3 trillion to Rs 2.3 trillion. Indian telecom majors are financial mess due to spectrum purchase and Covid-19 pandemic also affected them.

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