Bharti Airtel to commence 5G rollout from August 2012
India’s second largest telecom company, Bharti Airtel has already signed 5G network agreements with global telecom equipment giants like Ericsson of Sweden, Nokia of Finland and Samsung of South Korea. The purpose of these 5G network agreements is to commence 5G deployment from the month of August 2022 itself. Airtel has had a fairly long standing partnership with Ericsson and Nokia and their partnership with Samsung is just about starting out now. These partnerships are a logical corollary to the recent spectrum auctions.
It may be recollected that in the recent concluded 5G spectrum auctions, Bharti Airtel had bid for and acquired 19867.8 MHZ spectrum in 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 3300 MHz, and 26 GHz frequency. All these are predominantly 5G compatible frequencies and will catalyse the rapid launch and rollouts of 5G network connectivity in India. Bharti Airtel plans to start the roll out across most of the major cities and select smaller towns across India by August 2022 and the entire process is expected to be completed by March 2024.
For Airtel, that has shelled out more than Rs43,500 crore as license fees for the high-end spectrum, the rollout and the quality of partnerships are critical. That is the reason, they are looking at some of the world leaders in the equipment space like Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung to take their 5G pitch forward. A rapid rollout of 5G compatible network is the key to India’s transition into a digital economy. Also, 5G is the key to data intensive and iteration intensive emerging digital ideas like artificial intelligence, machine learning, IOT etc.
The whole idea of selecting multiple partners of international calibre is to be able to roll out the 5G services that offer ultra-high-speeds, low latency and the capability to handle large mountains of data. The 5G network will also enable superior user experience and open up new opportunities for enterprise customers. Ericsson has global experience in 5G rollout across large parcels of Europe and it will look to replicate its consolidated experience in India in partnership with Airtel. This will help Airtel deliver the full 5G range of benefits.
How would Nokia fit into the Airtel scheme of 5G rollout? Nokia will provide equipment from its AirScale portfolio, which is a market leader. Nokia will also offer solutions and services for network management, deployment, planning and optimization. AirScale is a baseband and radio portfolio to deliver superior 5G performance in what promises to be the largest and the most complex telecom networks in the world. Nokia has, again, been a long time partner of Bharti Airtel, almost from its early launch days in India.
The third major partner for Bharti Airtel in this rollout of 5G would be Samsung of South Korea. Samsung will be a network partner to deploy Airtel 5G and marks the start of a relationship for both parties. It gives Samsung a foothold in the Indian telecom market, where 5G is expected to have a deep impact on consumers and enterprises. Samsung will bring to the table its enhanced hardware capabilities to partner Airtel in the rollout. Together, the 4 partners will complete the 5G rollout of Airtel by March 2024.
Bharti Airtel has not only been extremely bullish about the prospects of 5G in India. But have also spearheaded the testing of several use cases with multiple partners. Bharti Airtel had demonstrated India’s first 5G experience over a live 4G network in Hyderabad. It had also demonstrated India’s first rural 5G trial. It also deployed India’s first captive private network on trial spectrum. As Bharti Airtel takes on the might of Reliance Jio, its big bet is on the rapid rollout of 5G, where it sees an opportunity to regain its market leadership.
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