Bharti Airtel Ltd said it will use US chip-maker Qualcomm Technologies Inc.’s technology to roll out fifth-generation, or 5G, telecom services in India.
The tie-up with Qualcomm comes shortly after India’s second-largest telco became the country’s first operator to conduct live 5G demonstration, and claimed its network is ready for the next-generation wireless service. It beat rival Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, which is yet to hold trials on a commercial network.
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The announcement of the tie-up with Qualcomm comes ahead of much-anticipated government approvals for 5G trials in the country, even though timelines for auction of 5G-specific spectrum in the 3,300-3,600MHz band have not been set yet.
“Through Airtel’s network vendors and device partners, it will utilize the Qualcomm 5G RAN (radio access network) platforms to roll out virtualized and open RAN-based 5G networks,” Airtel said, adding that it is working with Qualcomm to explore and implement the technology in India.
Ran is the final piece of the telecom network connecting the phones to the network and includes hardware such as the tower antenna and base stations.
With this announcement, Qualcomm has now collaborated with the two largest telecom operators in India for 5G.
In October, Jio Platforms Ltd, the digital services subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), and Qualcomm had announced their partnership to develop 5G solutions that will fast-track the launch of indigenous 5G network infrastructure and services in India.
Qualcomm is enabling Jio Platforms to build a home-grown 5G solution that, RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani said, will be rolled out in the second half of 2021.
Airtel and Qualcomm’s partnership will enable an array of use cases, including 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) that is designed to deliver broadband connectivity at gigabit speeds to homes and businesses, the telco said on Tuesday.
Qualcomm’s 5G FWA platform supports any combination of 5G spectrum bands and modes to provide a virtualized, flexible and interoperable 5G infrastructure.
This collaboration will also aim for a faster rollout of broadband services in a cost-effective manner across India amid the challenges of remote working.
“Airtel has been a pioneer of new technologies and our networks are fully ready for 5G,” said Randeep Sekhon, chief technology officer, Bharti Airtel.