Airtel launches India’s first 5G field trial network with 1Gbps throughput

Airtel 5G field trial
Image by SlawaB89 | Bigstockphoto

Bharti Airtel has become the first Indian telecom operator to launch a 5G field trial network in Gurugram’s Cyber Hub near its headquarters. It will soon launch similar trial networks in Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru. 

Gurugram, formerly known as Gurgaon, is a city located in the northern Indian state of Haryana. However, the city comes under the Delhi-NCR telecom circle.

Earlier this year, Airtel tested 5G over a live network using liberalized spectrum in the 1800 MHz band in Southern Indian city, Hyderabad. 

The 5G network in Gurgaon’s Cyber Hub is operating in the 3500 MHz band and reportedly delivers a throughput of over 1 Gbps. The telco recently received trial spectrum in 3500 MHz, 28 GHz and 700 MHz in Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

The DoT also allocated trial 5G spectrum in the same bands to Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea. Both these telecom operators are yet to launch their 5G field trial networks in the country.

According to a report by the Economic Times, the Sunil Mittal-led telecom operator is 

working with smartphone makers like Apple, Oppo, OnePlus, Vivo and Realme to test its 5G trial network across the country

Swedish telecom gear vendor Ericsson is powering Airtel’s 5G trial network in Gurugram. Finnish gear vendor Nokia will also power Airtel’s 5G trial networks in other circles.

Vodafone Idea will also work with Nokia and Ericsson to conduct 5G field trials. 

Reliance Jio will deploy 5G trial networks using gear from Samsung, Nokia and Ericsson, and will also use its own 5G equipment for 5G trials. Jio applied for trials in Delhi, Mumbai, Gujarat and Hyderabad.

The DoT has allocated experimental spectrum to all three private telcos in the mid-band (3.2 GHz to 3.67 GHz), the millimetre-wave band (24.25 GHz to 28.5 GHz) and the Sub-Gigahertz band (700 GHz). They were also allowed to use their existing spectrum in 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2500 MHz bands to conduct 5G trials.

State-owned telecom firm MTNL, which has operations in Mumbai and Delhi, will also be given trial spectrum upon submitting a fee for the trial spectrum. It is likely to conduct a 5G trial in Delhi’s Najafgarh area in partnership with state-run vendor C-DoT.

Both Vodafone Idea and Airtel had submitted separate applications to conduct OpenRAN-based 5G trials with US-based Mavenir. However, the DoT has yet to approve these applications,

The DoT had asked these telcos to conduct trials in rural, semi-urban settings and urban settings so that the benefit of 5G technology proliferates across the country and is not confined only to urban areas.

With 5G trials, the department aims to test various use cases such as telemedicine, tele-education, augmented/ virtual reality, and drone-based agricultural monitoring.

The department had said the trials would be isolated and not connected with the existing networks of telecom operators. “…trials will be on a non-commercial basis.  The data generated during the trials shall be stored in India,” the DoT had said.

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