New Delhi: Bharti Airtel Ltd on Wednesday said it has formed a strategic partnership with SK Telecom to leverage the South Korean telecom operator’s expertise in improving network experience, machine learning, big data and to provide a better experience to customers.

The capacity to identify, monitor and deliver improvements to the network experience on an individual device basis will be a first in India, helped by SK Telecom’s global leadership in this area, Airtel said in a statement on Wednesday.

The two companies will also collaborate to evolve standards for 5G, network functions virtualization, software-defined networking and Internet of things, and jointly work towards building an enabling ecosystem for the introduction of these technologies in the Indian context.

“This partnership will bring a dramatically improved experience to Airtel customers in India by leveraging the expertise of a company that has built one of the best mobile broadband networks in the world," Sunil Mittal, chairman, Bharti Airtel, said in the statement.

To be sure, technology in the telecom space is changing a great deal and so is the business model of telcos. India missed the bus for 4G technology, which only got rejuvenated after Mukesh Ambani-promoted Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd launched its 4G-only Jio that disrupted the market with heavy data flow for free in the beginning and later at ultra-cheap rates. But, the world is already moving towards 5G technology, which is expected to offer significantly faster data speed that will reduce the time taken to transfer data from one device to another significantly. It will also be crucial in establishing the so-called Internet of things, or connecting all devices to the Internet.

The Indian government does not want to miss the 5G bus. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is expected to release consultation papers ahead of framing regulations and standards for the roll-out of 5G networks and Internet of things (IoT).

Airtel’s move to tie up with SK Telecom is aimed in that direction.

SK Telecom is Korea’s largest telecom company with more than 29 million mobile users, or about 50% of the total market. It claims to have lunched CDMA (2G), WCDMA (3G) and LTE-A (4G) for the first time in the world. Further, SK Telecom is now looking at commercializing 5G technology.

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