The Airtel 5G demo is going live in Hyderabad before the commercial rollout

Airtel revealed on Thursday that it had been the first telco to successfully showcase 5G live coverage over a commercial network in Hyderabad. Taking into account Reliance Jio, the New Delhi-based telco announced that it served 5G and 4G simultaneously in the current liberalized spectrum in the 1800MHz band through the Non-Standalone (NSA) network technology. Airtel 5G is supposed to offer 10 times the speed of current network technologies—allowing consumers to stream a full-length movie in a matter of seconds on a 5G mobile.

Airtel has partnered with its equipment supplier Ericsson to provide new experience. The operator reported that it had the capability to run its 5G network over current technology-neutral mid-band spectrum with a frequency of 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2300MHz alongside sub-GHz bands available at 800MHz and 900MHz. The transition to 5G is made available through software upgrades over the existing network infrastructure, the operator said.

If approved by the Department of Telecom (DoT), Airtel claimed that it will dynamically run its 5G and 4G networks within the same spectrum block and that it will be able to launch 5G within a matter of months. However, the operator did not include any clear timeframe for the commercial roll-out of its 5G network in the country.

“The moment we receive government approvals, and we have the right spectrum bands and in adequate quantities, we’ll be able to roll this [5G] out immediately,” said Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, Bharti Airtel, during a virtual media briefing.

Airtel used the Oppo Reno 5 Pro and the Oppo Find X2 Pro smartphones for early demonstration. The operator, however, said that more than 20 commercially available 5G phones in the country will be ready for Airtel 5G. Existing users would still not be forced to update their existing SIM cards to offer next-generation network experience on their compliant handsets.
In December, Airtel Arch-Rival and India’s largest telecommunications network, Jio, announced that it will start rolling out its 5G service in the world in the second half of 2021. The operator has agreed to test its 5G network on a scale, but it is yet to show its service to the public.
Airtel’s 5G demo is live in selected shops in Hyderabad. The operator claims to maintain social distance requirements to curtail coronavirus spread when providing new experience.

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