NEW DELHI: India got its first 5G commercial demonstration with Bharti Airtel showcasing the high-speed telecom service in Hyderabad, in what was seen as a signal to arch rival Reliance Jio that it had stolen a march in the introduction of the coveted new-age telecom technology.
The technology was, however, limited to demonstration in Hyderabad’s Tech City and is not yet available to the consumers due to the absence of government clearances.
Fifth-generation technology for cellular networks, or 5G, marks the next phase of modernisation for mobile companies, but is yet to be launched in India as a consumer service as its specialised spectrum is yet to be auctioned and the requisite infrastructure investments and clearances are still to be made. Globally, 5G has started to roll out in some countries that include South Korea (Korea Telecom), US (Verizon), Japan (NTT, SoftBank) and China (China Mobile).
But there has been shadow boxing between Airtel and Reliance Jio over who is first off the blocks. “We have demonstrated that our network is fully ready for 5G even on the existing airwaves. We can switch on to 5G as soon as we get government approvals,” Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO of Airtel, said as he unveiled the services at Hyderabad.
“Every one of our investments is future-proofed as this test in Hyderabad proves… we have been the first in India to pioneer new technologies in our quest for empowering Indians everywhere.”
Recently, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani had said that Jio wants to launch 5G in India and would look at developing indigenous technology. Jio had also claimed that it would be ready to rollout 5G in the second half of 2021.