Bharti Airtel has made its move in ushering in the 5G mobile networks in India and has confirmed that their networks are 5G ready. The telco has tested the 5G service over the commercial network in Hyderabad and says they are the first telecom service provider in India to conduct a Live 5G service over an in-use network. Airtel says they used the existing technology neutral spectrum on the 1800MHz band and now have the capability to operate 5G networks on 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz as well as the 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands. The company says they can deploy 5G on their networks in a matter of months, which means users may not have to wait too long before they can use 5G services on their phones.
This will allow Airtel to offer 5G and 4G services within the same spectrum block. Spectrum has been a challenge for telecom service providers over the years, and is expensive to bid for and acquire. For the expected rollout in the coming months, Airtel says they can simply flip the switch for 5G via a simple software upgrade for the existing network infrastructure. They will not need to change any infrastructure components, including antennas or radios. The infrastructure deployment is done by Ericsson. For the field test of 5G in Hyderabad, Airtel used the Oppo Find X2 Pro and the Oppo Reno5 Pro phones. In due course, Airtel will update the list of 5G phones that its network will support.
The Airtel 5G network is expected to be up to 10 times faster than the current 4G speeds that a user may get on their phones or Wi-Fi devices, and more importantly, will reduce latency significantly while the network will be able to handle 100x more concurrent users than the current technology. Airtel says that users may not have to wait too long before they can use 5G services on their phones—it is just a matter of getting the approvals from the regulatory authorities before the services can be rolled out. Airtel believes that India has the potential to become a global hub for 5G innovation.