NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel and Chinese telecom gear maker Huawei have successfully conducted India’s first 5G network trial under a test setup at the former’s network experience centre in Manesar, Gurgaon.
Abhay Savargaonkar, director – networks at Bharti Airtel, said the test is small but a significant step in its journey towards the next generation 5G mobile networks, which could offer data speed up to 100 times faster than current 4G networks.
“The promise of 5G is endless; it will be a game changer, and it will change the way we live, work and engage,” he said. “We look forward to working closely with our partners for developing a robust 5G ecosystem in India.”
India plans to roll out 5G services for consumers by 2020 and to achieve that objective, the government had in September this year set up a high-level forum that will evaluate and approve roadmaps and action plans to bring in the latest technology in the country.
Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan recently said that the telecom department was expected to finalise a roadmap for 5G services by June this year.
The telecom industry – currently reeling under debt of more than Rs 7 lakh crore mainly due to cut-throat competition triggered by the entry of Reliance Jio Infocomm – has urged the government to go slow on 5G spectrum auction, but clearly Airtel wants to be fully prepared for the new technology.
“We’re moving quickly to begin collaboration towards 5G interoperability and development testing (IODT) based on the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project between groups of telecommunications associations to set 5G new radio standards) R15 standards,” Savargaonkar said.
5G R15 is focusing on enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), laying the key building blocks to support services like virtual reality, ultra-high-definition immersive video, and diversified long tail of future use cases and innovations.
In a recent interaction with ET, Savargaonkar had said Airtel was well positioned to usher in the 5G space in the coming years in partnership with its ecosystem of partners, He said efforts on the 5G front will open the doors for Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality.
During the test trial, a user throughput of more than 3 GBPS was achieved using the setup. This is the highest measured throughput for a mobile network in 3.5 GHz band with 100 MHz bandwidth and end-to-end network latency of approximately 1 msec. The setup included 5G RAN operating on 3.5 GHz band, 5G Core and 50GE Network Slicing router.
Emmanuel Coelho Alves, director, wireless marketing, at Huawei, said the show with Bharti Airtel demonstrated the performance capability of 5G in 3.5 GHz band. “We shall also continue to work with vertical industry players to develop wider ecosystem use cases beyond enhanced mobile broadband,” he said in a statement.
Airtel’s efforts around 5G technology isn’t limited to its collaboration with telecom gear vendors such as Ericsson and Nokia.
It recently entered into a strategic alliance with South Korean firm SK Telecom to leverage the latter’s expertise to build advanced telecom network and together work in developing 5G technology, network functions virtualisation (NFV), software-defined networking (SDN) and Internet of Things.