India’s Jio likely to adopt standalone 5G SA architecture

Jio 5G SA standalone
Image by Aleksandr Artt |

India’s top telco Reliance Jio is expected to adopt 5G standalone (SA) Option 2 architecture for its high-speed network. The intention behind adopting the 5G SA architecture is to enable new use cases that are not possible with 5G non-standalone.

The Mukesh Ambani-led telecom operator is likely to invest around $5-$6 billion to deploy its 5G SA network in the country, according to a report by India’s Business Standard newspaper. The likely investment is without spectrum costs.

Jio has so far invested over $27.03 billion on its 4G network, including spectrum costs. “To move to 5G standalone, however, its incremental investment in the network (how aggressively it will bid for spectrum is not known) would be far lower than what it forked out earlier,” the report said.

India is expected to conduct a 5G spectrum auction in the second half of next year. It is currently working on a 4G spectrum auction, that will be held in March 2021.

For its 5G network based on the standalone 5G architecture, Jio will also have to build a new 5G core and will need new radios, the report said. This architecture will also enable end to end slicing to separate services and allow the telco to launch new services for enterprise customers, including private cloud and private company networks.

In a non-standalone network, telecom operators can continue to use the core of the 4G network for 5G.

Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries Limited, recently said that Jio would launch 5G by the second half of 2021. The report said that the telco would be amongst a select club to have a live network using the standalone architecture for its 5G network since only China, South Korea and Singapore currently have networks based on the standalone 5G.

Jio Platforms, which owns telecom operator Jio, has developed an end-to-end suite of 5G products and platforms, including radio and core components.

Jio has reportedly developed its own 5G core software platform and designed the new radios. It recently announced a partnership with US chipmaker Qualcomm for 5G radios.

The telecom operator is currently in talks with various companies to manufacture 5G equipment in India.

“Reliance will also see cost savings as it is building its own 5G technology…Jio has already developed the 5G core software and will only need to buy some hardware. Besides, it has its own data centres and servers which are part of the core and are easily expandable,” people familiar with the development told the publication.

Jio has already informed India’s telecom department (DoT) about its plan to trial home-grown 5G technology and has sought approval. It had previously submitted separate applications for 5G field trials with Samsung, Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei, and ZTE.

Jio’s “Made-in-India 5G solution” will be ready for trials as soon as 5G spectrum is available in the country, and can be ready for field deployment next year, the company previously said.

Jio’s bitter rival Bharti Airtel recently submitted applications to trial 5G using both NSA and SA 5G network architectures.

“Even though the majority of countries are offering 5G using NSA, SA is also being used for 5G services. Airtel feels it’s a good time to test its network using both modes,” according to a report by the Economic Times.

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