Airtel was allotted spectrum for 5G trials in 28 GHz, 3500 MHz, and 700 MHz bands, while Reliance Jio and VI were granted spectrum in 3.5 GHz, 26 GHz and 700 MHz bands
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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel has completed its first 5G trial in the 700 MHz band on the outskirts of Kolkata with technical support from Nokia, the telecom operator said in a statement. The telco claims it was the first 5G trial in eastern India.
The telco said it achieved high-speed wireless broadband network coverage of 40 km between two 3GPP standard 5G sites. Nokia provided its AirScale radios and standalone (SA) core to the telco to conduct the tests.
3GPP is a collective of seven global agencies that develop telecommunication standards and ensure that network equipment and consumer devices are developed with global interoperability in mind.
All major operators including Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea (VI) and state-run Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) were allotted experimental spectrum in May by the Department of Telecom (DoT) to conduct 5G trials in urban, semi-urban, and rural areas of India to test the effectiveness of their equipment and 5G speeds they can muster in real-world environment.
Airtel was allotted spectrum for 5G trials in 28 GHz, 3500 MHz, and 700 MHz bands, while Reliance Jio and VI were granted spectrum in 3.5 GHz, 26 GHz and 700 MHz bands.
The duration of the 5G trials was set at six months with November 26 as the cut-off date. However, in October all three telcos moved DoT, seeking a one-year extension to complete the trials.
Bharti Airtel is India's second-largest telecom operator with a subscriber base of 35.44 crore as of September, as per data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Tai).
The Kolkatta trial is among the many the telco has conducted this year. Last month, Bharti Airtel reported its first 5G trial in rural India in partnership with Ericsson, a Swedish telecom equipment and communications company. The test was conducted in Bhaipur Bramananon, a village on the outskirts of Delhi/NCR and allowed the telco to demonstrate speeds of over 200 Mbps on 5G devices located at a distance of 10 km from the site.
“We believe that with the right pricing of 5G spectrum in the upcoming auctions, India can unlock the digital dividend and build a truly connected society with broadband for all," Randeep Singh Sekhon, CTO – Bharti Airtel said in a statement.
According to Naresh Asija, VP and Head of Bharti CT, Nokia, “5G deployment using 700Mhz spectrum is helping communications service providers across the world to cost-effectively provide mobile broadband in remote areas, where typically it is challenging for them to set up the network infrastructure."
Spectrum auctions for 5G band are expected to take place in April-May next year, Ashwini Vaishnav, communications minister, had said last month at a media event.
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