Bharti Airtel, India’s second-largest telecom operator, has said that its network is 5G ready. It became the first operator in the country to test 5G commercially. Airtel demonstrated live 5G services in Hyderabad through its 1800 MHz liberalised spectrum band. The telco said users could download big movies in a matter of seconds on a 5G device. It is worthy to note that Airtel operated both 4G and 5G in the same spectrum block concurrently. Thus Bharti Airtel has claimed that its network is 5G ready — more details on the story ahead.
Bharti Airtel Made its Network 5G Ready Using Dynamic Spectrum Sharing Technologies
As mentioned above, Bharti Airtel has said that its network is 5G ready. The telco has done this using dynamic spectrum sharing technologies. This means that Airtel can provide 5G services through its existing technology-neutral mid-bands (1800/2100/2300 MHz bands) and sub-GHz bands (800/900 MHz bands).
If permitted by the government, the telco has said it can deploy 5G in a matter of months. Users will be able to get both 4G and 5G through the same spectrum block. With this and the future spectrum allocations for the telco in 3.5 GHz bands, it would place the telco in a position to deliver world-class 5G services.
Upon availing 5G for a brief period for testing in Hyderabad, Airtel observed that it could provide 10x latency, 10x speeds, and 100x concurrency compared from the current technologies.
Airtel has said that it can now shift to 5G with a few simple software upgrades. It won’t need to replace the current antennas or radio assets. Thus with virtually no major increase in operational costs, the telco will roll out 5G throughout India. The same technology will help Airtel deploy 5G in the 3.5 GHz band after it is allocated.
All that the telco is waiting for is the government's approval and adequate spectrum being available to roll out 5G in a smooth manner India-wide.
This certainly puts Airtel ahead of the other telcos at the moment. With a 5G ready network, Airtel can be the first 5G service provider in the country beating Mukesh Ambani led Jio to it. It is worth noting that Jio said that India would be 5G ready by the second half of 2021.
Airtel did its 5G testings in a very discreet manner and has taken the industry by surprise. It will be worth the wait to see which telco rolls out 5G first in the country.