Airtel says network 5G ready; demonstrates live 5G service in Hyderabad

The company said Airtel 5G is capable of delivering 10x speeds, 10x latency and 100x concurrency when compared to existing technologies

New Delhi: Bharti Airtel on Thursday said its network is 5G ready now as the telco successfully demonstrated live fifth-generation service -- with ultra-high speeds -- over a commercial network in Hyderabad city.

The move assumes significance as telcos are gearing up to leverage 5G as the next frontier for future growth to bolster revenues and provide stronger customer experience.

While the latest demonstration underscores the company's technology capabilities for rolling out of fifth-generation services in future, Airtel said the actual impact of 5G experience will be available to customers, "when adequate spectrum is available and government approvals are received".

For the demo run, the company leveraged existing liberalised spectrum in the 1800 MHz band.

"In many ways now, it is a flick of a button to turn on 5G. It is important that we get the right 5G experience for which adequate spectrum in the right bands need to be made available.

"Today, we have conclusively demonstrated that as far as Airtel is concerned, we are 5G ready," Bharti Airtel MD and CEO Gopal Vittal said at a virtual conference.

The company said 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.

Using dynamic spectrum sharing, Airtel seamlessly operated 5G and 4G concurrently within the same spectrum block.

The company said its demonstration has validated the 5G readiness of Airtel's network across all domains -- radio, core and transport.

"Every single part of our network is now fully 5G ready...and can use any spectrum band to click on 5G experience in a matter of months," Vittal said.

Airtel said it is committed to position India as a global innovation hub that is at the forefront of tech revolution.

India has the potential to become a global hub for 5G innovation, Vittal said, adding this would require the coming together of ecosystem -- applications, devices and network innovation.

"We are more than ready to do our bit," he emphasised.

Airtel said it is the first operator to demonstrate this capability. The company had already demonstrated 5G capabilities in labs, where on a standalone mode it was able to deliver experiences of up to 3 Gbps.

"We are excited, as this has been demonstrated over a commercial network...The moment we receive Government approvals and we have the right spectrum bands in adequate quantities, we will be able to roll this out, immediately.

"Even on existing bands of spectrum, 5G can be turned on but the full power of the experience will be felt only when adequate spectrum is available from the Government," Vittal said.

The company does not see any significant change in its capex cycle going forward.

Telecom companies are eagerly looking to tap the upcoming 5G opportunities in the India, a lucrative market that has second largest number of telephone connections in the world.

Reliance Jio has said it will continue to accelerate the rollout of its digital platforms and indigenously developed next-generation 5G stack.

The company had said it will make 5G affordable and available everywhere, adding that its 5G service would be a testimony to the vision of 'Atmanirbhar Bharat'.

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