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Airtel partners with Qualcomm for rapid 5G roll-out in India

Airtel and Qualcomm will collaborate to enable a wide array of use cases.

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NEW DELHI: Last month, Airtel successfully conducted 5G field trials in Hyderabad and announced that it would roll out 5G services in India in select cities by June 2021.  Now, the telco operator has partnered with Qualcomm Technologies for accelerating 5G services in India, the company stated in a regulatory filing.

"Through Airtel's network vendors and device partners, Airtel will utilise the Qualcomm SG RAN Platforms to roll-out virtualised and Open RAN-based 5G networks. The flexible and scalable architecture of 0-RAN will create new opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses to become viable players in the deployment of 5G networks," the company said.

Additionally, Airtel and Qualcomm will collaborate to enable a wide array of use cases, including 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) that can deliver broadband connectivity at Gigabit speeds to homes and businesses. It is essential for “the last mile” connectivity challenges, which have, in the past, impeded progress on several occasions. The company is also hoping to expand the networks to newer categories such as virtual reality and smart homes.

Qualcomm‘s 5G FWA platform supports virtually any combination of 5G spectrum bands and modes, from extended-range high power sub-6 to extended-range mmWave. The former is better suited to cover large areas while the latter is ideal for densely-populated urban areas which require high-speed connectivity.

Bharti Airtel CTO Randeep Sekhon commented, "Airtel has been a pioneer of new technologies and 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' SG leadership, we will be well placed to usher India into the next era of hyper-fast and ultra-low latency digital connectivity."

5G services are not available in India right now. Telecom firms such as Airtel and Reliance Jio, however, are making efforts to push 5G in the country. According to reports, the government will soon allow the operators to run 5G trials very soon. Apart from Airtel and Reliance Jio, state-run BSNL and Vodafone Idea are also in the fray for 5G.

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