India’s top telecom operator, Reliance Jio, said that it has successfully conducted connected drone trials on its locally-developed 5G network to execute various industrial and enterprise use cases.
In a LinkedIn post on Monday, Jio’s senior vice president Aayush Bhatnagar said the trial involved precision command and control of 5G drones using a cloud-based fleet management system to perform tasks such as image recognition, track-and-trace, discrete payload pickup and delivery, drone route sorties, video imagery and real-time drone control, among other applications.
“At Jio, we have taken another major stride in ‘making 5G real’ – beyond speed tests and demos … 5G-connected drones will enable future use cases across industries and enterprises,” Bhatnagar said.
The development comes close on the heels of a six-month extension to all private telecom operators to trial new 5G use cases. The new extension period will end in May 2022, by which time operators may also see the next round of 5G spectrum auctionz by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
Last week, India’s Communications and IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the 5G spectrum sale and network rollouts are expected to take place in the second quarter of 2022.
The development also follows the recent move by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to start a consultation process for setting up a base price across 10 frequency bands for the commercial launch of 5G services.
Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio is currently conducting various 5G use cases using its indigenously developed 5G NR radio and 5G core network (5GCN) on mid- and millimeter-wave bands provided by the Indian government. The telco intends to conduct trials in nine Indian cities, with Navi Mumbai being the largest testing hub.
Jio had already conducted a series of trials including immersive HD multi-party VR video calls, end-to-end network slicing on its indigenous 5G standalone core, voice and messaging over 5G NR, and an AI multimedia chatbot.
Jio is aiming to aggressively test its technology with the help of consumer and enterprise use cases before it takes its homegrown 5G stack to other global telecom markets.
Jio recently revealed that it was exploring partnerships with global system integrators and software as a service (SaaS) providers for its 5G network in India, which is expected to go live six months after the spectrum auction next year.
The operator plans to launch 5G at scale when spectrum is commercially available. It is exploring partnerships for offering pre-integrated solutions that can leverage its 5G stack to deliver end-to-end service for customers.
Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have also been ramping up their development of 5G use cases following the extension from the DoT.
Airtel is teaming up with Accenture, Amazon Web Service (AWS), Google Cloud, Tata Consultancy (TCS) and telecom gear vendors like Cisco, Ericsson and Nokia to demonstrate enterprise-grade 5G use cases. It is also working with Apollo Hospitals, Flipkart and some manufacturing companies to test 5G-based solutions.
Vodafone Idea is also accelerating its 5G trials with different partners, and will be working with start-ups to develop more use cases. It recently partnered with homegrown startups Vizbee Robotics Solution and Tweek Labs to test 5G-based solutions for aerial traffic management and motion-capture systems in Pune and Gandhinagar.