Airtel 5G services will be rolled out soon after the government concludes spectrum auction, an executive said in an interview on the sidelines of a physical event on Thursday where the telco demonstrated its next-generation network. The New Delhi-based telecom operator is on a move to take on Reliance Jio — the largest telco in the country — by setting up the stage for its 5G rollouts. It conducted a demonstration of the Airtel 5G network at its Network Experience Centre in Manesar, Gurugram, by showcasing an immersive video experience using the 3,500MHz band test spectrum allotted by the Department of Telecom (DoT).
CTO Randeep Sekhon suggested in an interview with 91Mobiles that Airtel will launch its 5G services in the country within 2–3 months of the spectrum auction.
“While this is not a race, we believe Airtel is very ready to launch 5G after the spectrum auction,” he said, as quoted by the website.
Sekhon also underlined that 5G plans in the country are expected to be similar to 4G tariffs.
Airtel demonstrated the potential of its 5G services by recreating the stadium experience of cricketer Kapil Dev’s 175-run innings at the 1983 Cricket World Cup. It conducted the experience by playing a 4K video of the match simultaneously for 50 concurrent users, available on a network delivering 200Mbps of average speed and a latency of under around 20 milliseconds.
The operator also showcased a 5G-powered hologram of the cricketer to demonstrate its next-generation network that was running on an Ericsson 5G Radio in non-standalone (NSA) and standalone (SA) modes over 3,500MHz band test spectrum.
In January last year, Airtel demonstrated its 5G network live in Hyderabad. It additionally kicked off its 5G trial network in Gurugram to offer over 1Gbps speed in the testing phase in June.
Airtel also tied up with Qualcomm last year to bolster its 5G network rollout in the country.
Similar to Airtel, Jio also last year announced that it is testing its 5G network with up to 1Gbps speed. Jio has a list of partners on board, including Google, Intel, and Qualcomm.
That said, the government has not yet announced exact dates of its 5G-focussed spectrum auction. However, it is expected to take place sometime in May, and it’s safe to speculate that the operators should be able to kick off their 5G services in India starting August.