Bharti Airtel first to demo 5G

23 February 2021

Bharti Airtel became the first telecom operator to demonstrate its capability to roll out 5G wireless services in India, beating rival Reliance Jio Infocomm in the process.

The former said it conducted on-field trials in Hyderabad to establish its ability to launch 5G, or fifth generation, services. This new wireless service will pave the way for super-fast internet speeds and power internet of things (IoT) applications, such as driverless cars and smart cities.

Airtel’s achievement is also a boost for the company, which has been struggling to play catch-up with Jio for the past few years and has ceded its leadership in the Indian telecom market. The latter plans to launch the service later this year but has yet to complete trials.

“We are the first telco to successfully demonstrate and orchestrate a live 5G service over a commercial network in Hyderabad,” said Airtel chief executive Gopal Vittal at a press conference. “This demonstration emphatically validates the 5G readiness of Airtel’s network across all domains—radio, core and transport."

Airtel used a block in the 1,800MHz spectrum band to operate both 5G and 4G simultaneously on its network in Hyderabad. Any band can be used for 5G service by upgrading the equipment and technology, but operators must use bands in the range of 3,300-3,600MHz to provide best high-speed and low-latency experience to users.