Prepping For 5G In India: Airtel Elects Nokia As It’s Partner

The race begins… again.

There are usually only two positions in a race that are the hardest fought — the leader’s and the one who comes in last. All others are relegated to various badges implying their role of “also-ran” contenders, except perhaps to their near and dear ones.

Since a leader’s always under threat, hence it needs to do everything to stay ahead — wake up earlier in the day, practice harder, find the right coach to mentor, and most definitely plan and execute beautifully.

That’s what Airtel does well. Always.

No wonder it’s India’s largest telecom operator. By a long margin. Because it does things differently, and it starts doing them earlier in the day, than anybody else.

Many of you may remember Airtel being the world’s first operator to do something as bizarre and unheard of, as completely outsourcing it’s telecom network and infrastructure! Well, that helped Airtel stay ahead of network demands, be extremely scalable while at the same time helping keep it’s bottom line firmly ‘in the black’.

Now, as the world begins to define 5G and how it could be leveraged, Airtel has already lined up to work with Nokia to prepare itself for the next generation of communication technology.

Chip-Monks had written about Nokia’s imminent foray into India for 5G back in June of 2016! You can read it here

Under a new agreement, Nokia and Airtel will collaborate to drive the definition and development of new services, with a focus on taking the path to fifth generation network connectivity.

Not only that, the Airtel-Nokia duo will also prep India for the full-form arrival of the Internet of Things (IoT).

There’s more. Nokia will begin helping Airtel strengthen its existing 4G network — in terms of efficiency, improve operations and driving overall cost effectiveness. This will help Nokia get an in-depth picture of the network & infrastructure that Airtel currently rides on, which will then help the duo ensure Airtel’s readiness for the rollout of 5G, whenever that happens.

Before we go further, I need to remind you not to expect 5G services anytime soon.
 Still being defined, and the charter still being drawn up, the expected time-frame for the extravagant global launch of 5G is sometime around 2019–2020.

Some of you have asked us what 5G really means.

5G promises to enable dramatic improvements in data speeds, reduction of the latency in the network and allow more ‘agility’ — such as the ability to enable new capabilities like ‘network slicing’.

Recently, international headlines were about the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) agreeing on what the final specifications of 5G would look like. The minimum download speed offered on the 5G network will be 100 Mbps and would be capable of supporting of over one million devices per square kilometers of geographic area!

5G specifications are being finalised keeping in mind the future where electronic devices will talk to each other over wireless networks, forming what’s called the Internet of Things aka IoT.

So this new-age network will allow telcos to support a growing number of customers and potentially billions of connected IoT devices with consistent Quality of Service, laying the foundation for smarter cities and rural communities, connected vehicles, industrial automation, remote healthcare and a myriad of business possibilities.

Simpler English? 5G will be faster than today’s wired broadband, and yet it’s a mobile technology. It will become the backbone of all your, and your household devices’ internet needs.

“Why 5G Already? We’re barely on 4G!”

Another question we get asked regularly. And err… we agree. It’s too soon to think 5G, when most of us still haven’t boarded the 4G train. In fact we wrote a (rather) forthright article saying the same thing a few days ago. You should read that too. It’s available here.

We haven’t changed our opinion. Indian telcos still need to improve their 3G and 4G performance, but standing at the cusp of the IoT revolution as we are, we (the country) need to be ready. For the economy’s sake as well as for the sake of being future-proof.

While India is getting used to 4G LTE, telecom operators are leaving no stone unturned to make sure that they are ready for the 5G Networks. Even the Government of India is being very supportive to the effort.

The Telecom Ministry has expressed its interest in being an early adopter of 5G technology. One of the most spoken about telcos, and Airtel’s chief rivals, Reliance Jio is reportedly teaming up with Samsung for it’s 5G network planning, and has even claimed that they already have the fibber infrastructure in place to support it.

Why Nokia?

Nokia’s AirScale solution allows telecom services providers to scale their networks to freely add subscribers while keeping latency (connectivity to the backend servers etc.) at an imperceptible level. Airtel will make use of this technology from Nokia to stay ahead and deliver a class-differential in user experience.

Abhay Savargaonkar, Director, Network Services at Bharti Airtel, said — “Airtel has always been a pioneer in rolling out the latest technologies to deliver a superior experience to its customers. 5G and IoT applications have tremendous potential to transform lives and we are pleased to partner with Nokia to enable these future technologies for our customers.”

Sanjay Malik, Head of India Market, Nokia, said: “After our successful association with Bharti Airtel for 2G, 3G and 4G technologies, we are proud to partner to prepare for the future of mobile networks. We will leverage our global experience in 5G-related industry projects and collaborations to enable Bharti Airtel to prepare their networks for greater capacity, coverage and speed”.

It’s definitely interesting to see how the telecom operators in India are eyeing the next generation of communications, and gearing up for it.

We expect the rollout of 5G to be way quicker than the 3G and 4G services in India! We are cheeky, we know, but then that’s what drives brands to improve — aggressive customer expectations!

Originally published at Chip-Monks.