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Airtel-Ericsson engage in 5G rural trials, clock 100 mbps speed

Airtel-Ericsson engage in 5G rural trials, clock 100 mbps speed
Photo Credit: 123RF.com

India's second-largest telecom company, Bharti Airtel, said on Tuesday it was able to realize speeds of 100mbps on a 5G-enabled mobile device connected to a 5G site 10 km away in a test that was part of a rural 5G pilot undertaken by the telco and Swedish networking and telecommunications company, Ericsson. 

The demonstration took place in the outskirts of Delhi/NCR in a village known as Bhaipur Bramanan, utilising the 5G trial spectrum allocated to Airtel by the Department of Telecom. 

The development follows Airtel's recent announcement of a Rs 5,000 crore investment in datacenters, which will need 5G connectivity in the near future to support large enterprise networking and government-based use cases.

In May, telecom services providers Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea were alloted spectrum to conduct 5G trials in select cities across India. 

The 5G solution deployment was possible owing to enhanced mobile broadband (Embb) and fixed wireless access (FWA) services.  

Embb refers to an extension of services first introduced by 4G LTE networks, which allows for a wider coverage area at high data rates. It will be able to support peak data rates for a large audience, as well as users who are traveling. FWA is the process by which wireless broadband is provided through radio links between two fixed points. It is a microwave-based technology capable of sending and receiving high-speed data. 

“5G will be a transformational technology when it comes to delivering broadband coverage to the last mile through use cases like FWA and contribute to a more inclusive digital economy,” Randeep Singh Sekhon, Airtel CTO, said. 

The trial demonstrated speeds of over 200 mbps on 5G compliant devices, at a distance of 10 km away from the site. On a 5G enabled mobile phone, 100 mbps was the top speed recorded. This translated to an area coverage of 20 km where high-speed broadband coverage can be received, the company said.  

The 5G site utilized Ericsson’s 3GPP-compliant 5G radio. 3GPP, short for ‘The 3rd Generation Partnership Project’, is an umbrella term for number of standards organizations who develop protocols for mobile telecommunications. 

Airtel said that it will be able to enable 5G over its existing nationwide 4G infrastructure. 

“5G will serve as a socio-economic multiplier for the country. According to an Ericsson study, on average, a 10 per cent increase in the Mobile Broadband adoption ratio causes a 0.8 per cent increase in GDP,” Nunzio Mirtillo, Head of Ericsson South-East Asia, Oceania and India, said. 

5G spectrum auctions are expected to take place in the country in February 2022 by the Department of Telecommunications. 

A June 2021 study by Ericsson predicts India to have 330 million 5G subscribers by 2026, with the average smartphone user using about 40 GB of data on a monthly basis. The current data consumption stands at 14.6 GB per month.