Airtel on Tuesday said it will collaborate with Qualcomm to roll out 5G services in India. Airtel said it will use Qualcomm’s 5G RAN platforms to roll out virtualized and open RAN-based 5G networks.
The announcement comes days after the telco demonstrated 5G over a live commercial network in Hyderabad. Airtel is India’s second-largest telecom operator.
In a statement given out to the media, the telco said as a board member of the O-RAN Alliance, it was committed to driving the success of O-RAN and was working with Qualcomm to explore and implement the O-RAN approach for India.
The approach will further help create new opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses to become ‘viable players’ in the deployment of 5G networks, it said.
Airtel said the collaboration with Qualcomm will entail a ‘wide array’ of use cases, including 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) for Gigabit speed broadband connectivity. Though more granular details have not been shared, Airtel highlighted how the partnership aims to allow faster roll-out of 5G broadband services across India in a cost-effective manner.
“Our networks are fully ready for 5G. We are delighted to have Qualcomm Technologies as a key technology provider in our journey to roll-out world-class 5G in India. With Airtel’s integrated service portfolio and Qualcomm Technologies’ 5G leadership, we will be well placed to usher India into the next era of hyper-fast and ultra-low latency digital connectivity,” Randeep Sekhon, CTO, Bharti Airtel said.
Arch-rival Jio is also gearing to launch 5G in India as soon as the spectrum auction comes around. Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani has previously even confirmed a timeline for when this will happen — something that Airtel is not committing to, at least at this point of time.
Jio 5G service(s) will be launched in India in the second half of 2021, Ambani had said during his keynote presentation at India Mobile Congress 2020. Jio’s 5G service will be powered by an indigenous-developed network, hardware and technology components, a move that has not gone down well with Airtel even as the telco has called on India to embrace global standards.