Indian telecom operators are in “rush to become the first player to launch 5G” and “it is expected to be a close competition,” says Deepa Dhingra, senior telecom analyst at GlobalData. Dhingra told TelecomTalk that the “major” telecom operators in India including Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are all “highly competitive” and that these operators “have been carrying out 5G trials.” In early June, it emerged that Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio have been carrying out 5G trials across select locations in India, with Airtel recording over 1 Gbps on Speedtest in its trials.
5G Commercial Launch in India in 2022 Says Analyst
The senior telecom analyst at GlobalData said that the company expects 5G commercial launch in India to happen in 2022.
“We expect Jio to become the first operator to launch 5G with help of its technology partners Google, Samsung, Nokia and Ericsson,” Dhingra told TelecomTalk in an email interview.
Mukesh Ambani, Reliance Industries chairman at the company’s annual general meeting on Thursday, said that Jio has “received the necessary regulatory approvals” and the “trial spectrum for initiating 5G field trials.”
“We are confident of being the first to launch full-fledged 5G services,” Ambani said at the annual general meeting on Thursday. “And because of our converged, future-proof architecture, JIO's network is uniquely positioned to quickly and seamlessly upgrade from 4G to 5G.”
Further, Ambani said that the largest telecom operator in India has “successfully demonstrated speeds well in excess of 1 Gbps” in its 5G trials. Ambani also said that Jio has installed the 5G standalone network in its data centres across India and also at its trial sites in Navi Mumbai.
However, Edelweiss Research, a leading domestic institutional brokerage house on Thursday said that it expects a “limited 5G launch” from Jio in 2022, with a “larger rollout in 2024-25.”
It also has to be noted that Ambani at the annual general meeting highlighted that Jio is now “working with leading global partners to develop a full range of 5G-capable devices.”
“The Jio 5G technology is well-positioned to create compelling applications for consumers and enterprises spanning healthcare, education, entertainment, retail and other key verticals of the economy,” Ambani said.
Further, Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer at Google and Alphabet at the Reliance Industries annual general meeting announced a “new 5G partnership between Google Cloud and Jio.”
“It will help more than a billion Indians connect to a faster and better internet, support businesses in their digital transformation and help Jio build new services in sectors like health, education and more, laying a foundation for the next phase of India's digitization,” Pichai said at the Reliance Industries annual general meeting.
Google Partnership will Help Jio Monetize 5G Services Says Analyst
Dhingra highlighted that the largest wireless operator in India will “utilise Google’s cloud services to power its home-grown 5G solution.”
“Furthermore, Jio and Google have [sic] reportedly developing an affordable 5G smartphone to accelerate the adoption of 5G services post the commercial 5G network launch in 2022,” Dhingra said.
The senior telecom analyst at GlobalData said that Jio and Google are “working to develop a portfolio of 5G edge computing solutions" for multiple industries including healthcare and education.
“We believe that Jio’s ambition are not limited to providing 5G consumer services, its partnership with Google will help it monetize 5G services by offering a variety of services for [the] business segment,” Dhingra said.
Jio Platforms, a Reliance Industries subsidiary and the holding company of Jio has since announced that it will take advantage of NXP Layerscape Processors to build its new 5G NR O-RAN small cells solution. In a release on Tuesday, it was said that the new 5G solutions enabled Jio to record over 1 Gbps data rate when tested at 100 MHz channel bandwidth in 3.5 GHz spectrum.
“This translates to increased performance for a wide range of segments, enabling innovative applications in smart cities, smart homes, health and education, and significantly enhanced user experience in data download rates for all mobile users,” NXP Semiconductors and Jio Platforms said in a release.
Meanwhile, Bharti Airtel on June 21, 2021, revealed a “strategic partnership” with Tata Group for “implementing 5G networks solutions for India”
“Tata Group has developed a ‘state of the art’ O-RAN based Radio & NSA/SA Core and has integrated a totally indigenous telecom stack, leveraging the Group capabilities and that of its partners,” Bharti Airtel and Tata Group said in a release. “This will be available for commercial development starting Jan 2022.”
Further, Airtel on Tuesday said that it has deployed Ciena’s photonic infrastructure designs to nearly triple its optic fiber network capacity for “delivering a world-class 5G experience” to its users. It was said that the second largest operator in India by implementing Ciena’s 600G and 800G solutions in the large cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata will enable Airtel to accelerate 5G.