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Airtel Starts 5G Trial Network Run in Gurugram

Bharti Airtel has kicked off its 5G trial network in Gurugram just a little over a month after the government gave its go-ahead to telecom operators in India to carry out trials on the next-generation cellular network technology, Gadgets 360 has learnt. The telco is giving its 5G network at a maximum speed of over 1Gbps. The site where the trial is currently running is operating in the 3500MHz band. Earlier this year, Airtel demonstrated its 5G network using liberalised spectrum in the 1800MHz band.

The 5G trial network is now live in Gurugram’s Cyber Hub, a source familiar with the development told Gadgets 360. Airtel is running the test in partnership with Swedish equipment maker Ericsson.

Following the initial trial, Airtel is in plans to conduct a similar test run in Mumbai in the coming days, Gadgets 360 has learnt.

Airtel is delivering its 5G network during the trial at a speed of over 1Gbps. This is significantly faster over what consumers normally get on a 4G network in the country.

According to Ookla, India is ranked 130 in terms of mobile Internet speeds worldwide, with an average download speed of 12.81Mbps and upload speed of 4.79Mbps.

For now, Airtel customers will not be able to experience the 5G network during the trial even if they have a compatible smartphone, as the government’s rules do not allow testing with end users. The devices that operators use for such trials also require special software updates from their manufacturer side to test the network before its public rollout.

In May, the government allowed telecom operators including Airtel, Jio, and Vodafone Idea to begin their anticipated 5G trials in the country with equipment makers Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung. Airtel received 5G trial spectrum in 3500MHz, 28GHz, and 700MHz bands in Delhi/ NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru.

Unlike Airtel, Jio, which is the largest telecom operator in the country in terms of its user base, is yet to conduct its formal 5G trials in the country. The Mumbai-based operator last year promised to test 5G in collaboration with Qualcomm at scale. It is also working with Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung to enable its telecom gear for the 5G network in the country.

In December, Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani revealed that Jio would begin its 5G services as early as the second half of 2021.

Airtel in January claimed that it became the first telco in the country to successfully demonstrate its 5G service over a commercial network in Hyderabad. The operator had said that it conducted the demonstration using liberalised spectrum in the 1800MHz band through the Non-Standalone (NSA) network technology.

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