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Mumbai: Sterlite Technologies Limited (STL), an integrator of digital networks, today announced a partnership with telecom operator Bharti Airtel, to build a modern optical fibre network for Airtel across 10 telecom circles.

The new optical network will enable Airtel to deliver world-class customer experience through enhanced scalability, reduced latency, and improved bandwidth, claimed the companies. The densely fiberized network, will also form the foundation for many next-gen services such as 5G, FTTH, IoT, enterprise networks, and Industry 4.0. STL has been a long term partner to Airtel in the optical connectivity space and in this project, STL will closely work with Airtel to design and build a network that will shape the future of connected India.

India's fibre penetration, according to industry estimates, is extremely low, with only 25% of the 5 lakh telecom towers connected via fibre — an essential backhaul requirement to deploy high-speed data networks. Telecom experts estimate that as the demand for 4G services increases and the country moves towards 5G trials, there will be a massive need for fiberization to support wireless services as well.

Recently, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) released a consultation paper to address the slow proliferation of broadband services in the country which require a strong fibre network.

Trai has also asked for possible reasons for slower growth of FTTH (fibre-to-the-home) subscribers and what is possibly preventing Local Cable Operators (LCOs) from providing broadband services. Trai asked if the reason for slow fixed and mobile broadband speeds, are the design and capacity of core network and equipment such as RAN.

For this project, STL will use its end-to-end deployment solution – LEAD 360o. It comes with features like robotics cable blowing and Artificial Intelligence bots along with a pre-integrated suite of optical fibre, cable, network design, and integration services. This solution will create multiple efficiencies, enable faster launch readiness, and enhanced network quality for Airtel.

Commenting on the partnership, Randeep Sekhon, CTO, Bharti Airtel said: “We are pleased to deepen our collaboration with STL to build a competent, future ready network. Airtel has always been committed to delivering customer delight and building a connected ecosystem. This 5G-ready and high capacity network will enable us to provide faster delivery of new services, while delivering an enhanced user experience."

In July, Bharti Airtel renewed its agreement with Swedish telecom equipment provider Ericsson to provide pan-India managed network operations through Ericsson Operations Engine.

K.S. Rao, CEO- Network Services and Software, STL said “As an integrator of end-to-end digital networks, we are constantly innovating to provide smarter and intelligent networks to our customers. We are excited about this stronger and renewed strategic partnership with Airtel. The need for dense fiberization shall continue to grow on the back of investments in 5G, FTTH, data centres, and next-gen digital networks. STL, with its diverse capability across all network layers, is uniquely positioned to deliver significant value for Digital Service Providers."

Telecom operators have been upgrading their technology partnerships rapidly in light of both the geo-political concerns around equipment vendors as well as the increasing dependency on telecom services due to the global pandemic.

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