Indian telecoms operator Reliance Jio revealed that it has further enhanced its indigenous 5G core technology by developing a 5G network slicing platform (NSP) to enable network slicing-as-a-service (NSaaS).
The development will allow Jio to tap the growing opportunity for private and enterprise 5G use cases in India.
“This [slicing] platform pre-integrates with Jio’s home-grown Cloud Native OSS and BSS (TM Forum Certified), to deliver an end to end service experience starting right from a customer-facing marketplace of 5G apps,” Reliance Jio Senior Vice President, Aayush Bhatnagar said on Tuesday.
He said that as private and enterprise 5G use cases mature, the slicing-as-a-service capability, coupled with cloud native automation, will enable 5G service delivery at scale.
Jio has already started exploring partnerships with global system integrators and software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers for its 5G stack. It recently said that those partnerships will allow it to offer pre-integrated solutions that can leverage the 5G stack to deliver end-to-end services for customers.
Jio is keen on perfecting its end-to-end 5G stack ahead of its planned commercial roll out later this year. It has been carrying out trials of various 5G use cases including connected robotics, voice and messaging over 5G NR, an AI multimedia chatbot, and immersive high-definition virtual reality meetings. All these use cases have been tested using its homegrown 5G stack.
While the testing of its own 5G technology continues, Jio is also working with traditional vendors like Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia to test their 5G gear across various Indian cities.
South Korean gear vendor Samsung is currently the sole equipment provider for Jio’s pan-India 4G network, but that exclusive partnership ended in 2020 following Jio’s decision to build everything related to 5G on its own.
The Korean company reportedly began discussions with Bharti Airtel to secure a slice of its 5G-related investments. That said, even as talks continue with Airtel, Samsung is aiming to seal an exclusive 5G partnership with Jio. It is likely to get some new business for Jio’s existing network for coverage and capacity expansion.
Meanwhile, Jio has bigger ambitions for its indigenous OpenRAN-based 5G stack. – it plans to offer the stack abroad after testing it on a pan-India scale.
Jio recently revealed that it completed 5G coverage planning for 1,000 top cities based on targeted customer consumption and revenue potential. The telco is using heat maps, 3D maps and ray tracing technology for precise coverage planning to target high consumption and high perception locations.
In order to quickly acquire 5G customers, Jio is also reportedly developing a new affordable 5G smartphone, dubbed the JioPhone 5G, which could be priced anywhere between $120-$160.
The 5G spectrum auctions, which have already been pushed back multiple times, are currently slated for June 2022, after which Indian telecom operators could start offering C-band 5G services initially starting in 2023.