India has been patiently waiting for 5G, with the network being available in most, if not all the popular countries for quite some time now. Add to this the increasing number of smartphone launches with a focus on 5G and the subsequent introduction of newer bands, so as to accommodate Sub-6 GHz and mmWave based 5G, making the absence of 5G in the country seem even longer than it actually is. That being said, Bharti Airtel announced recently that it had tested 5G in a commercial test, that too in the city of Hyderabad.
During the said test, they were able to produce good results, despite being on an older spectrum and using a method to combine both 4G and 5G on a single tower. This was able to produce some results, even though they were far from what was advertised all over the world.
Whatever might be the result, this test did indicate that brands are gearing up for the launch of 5G and, when it does get clearance, the feature will be accessible to most, if not all without long waits.
This brings us to the question as to when major telecom providers such as Airtel, Vi and Jio will announce their plans.
What Are the Bands Required for 5G?
The frequency bands that are required for 5G are unavailable in the country. For those unaware, Trai is hosting 700 MHz to 2,500 MHz auctions in March 2021, but it is inadequate and would affect the rollout of 5G, as per the operators. The telcos have recommended a sale of the spectrum of 3,300-3,600 MHz, which is the optimal spectrum for 5G.
Do note however that the final decision as to whether or not the spectrum will be sold depends on the government and the telcos will have to adhere to what the government has to say.
Reliance Jio 5G Plans
Reliance Jio, popularly known as the pioneer of the 5G revolution in India, the company’s chairman, Mukesh Ambani announced back in the day that Jio will lead the 5G revolution, starting by launching the same in the second half of 2021.
The company also claimed that it could easily shift from it’s existing infrastructure, thanks in part to the converged network infrastructure.
It is also believed that the telco might buy a large chunk of 700 MHz spectrum in the upcoming auction to fulfil its 5G ambitions unless the government announces the auction of 3300-3600MHz, which is globally popular for 5G. The official Jio 5G launch is expected to take place sometime in October or November 2021.
Bharti Airtel 5G Plans
Bharti Airtel, the closest company to have showcased any kind of 5G, is yet to reveal its plans regarding the same. The company also believes that the next generation of mobile technology needs more time to be rolled out across the country.
That being said, Airtel is ready for 5G and its effective rollout, having recently conducted a commercial test in the city of Hyderabad. Furthermore, it has already deployed its MIMO (Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output) technology in areas such as Bengaluru and Kolkata.
Vodafone Idea (Vi) 5G Plans
Vi, popularly known as Vodafone Idea is also gearing up for the roll out of 5G in India, as soon as the spectrum auction takes place. The company has already upgraded its infrastructure to a 5G based architecture as well as additional tech like dynamic spectrum reframing.
As for testing, the telco has been proposing trials with many vendors, some of which include Huawei and Ericsson. However, Vi's participation in the upcoming 5G auction will depend on its financial health over the next two quarters.
BSNL 5G Plans
BSNL remains in the dark when it comes to its 5G plans and the method it will take for the rollout of the same. Two years ago, in 2019, the company announced that it would come up with a 5G corridor in Delhi, but updates regarding the same are yet to surface.
The corridor, which according to the company would showcase the possible use of optimum data speeds at 5G level, with help from new tech, would also include some inputs from an in-house testing centre that BSNL stated it would set up. At some point, BSNL also said it directly move to 5G by skipping 4G technology altogether.