Reliance Jio, the front-runner among the big three operators in India, can now claim another leading position: the use in a 5G field trial network of its own indigenously developed 5G equipment and technology in Mumbai.
However, it’s unclear whether Jio’s version of 5G, using equipment manufactured in India with the help of local partners, will be cost-effective and compatible with existing hardware. That said, Indian news reports suggest that Jio has already developed an end-to-end 5G stack, including 5G radio and core network solutions.
Jio Platforms is also said to be working with OEMs on standardising 5G device configurations.
Jio says it is using both mid and mmWave bands with standalone architecture for 5G trials in Mumbai. Indian news reports add that the company is engaging with vendors like Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia to start 5G trials in other cities in the coming days. Delhi, Mumbai, Gujarat and Hyderabad are said to be on Jio’s wishlist.
But Jio isn’t the only operator to be trialling 5G. Bharti Airtel recently kicked off its 5G trial network in Gurugram, a city in the northern Indian state of Haryana. The site where the trial is currently running is operating in the 3500MHz band. Mumbai is next, apparently.
In addition, earlier this year, Airtel, which is working with Ericsson, demonstrated its 5G network using liberalised spectrum in the 1800MHz band over a commercial network. The demonstration, using non-standalone (NSA) network technology, took place in Hyderabad, the capital of southern India’s Telangana state and a major centre for the technology industry.
As we reported at the time, in May the wireless planning and coordination (WPC) section of India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) awarded six months of 5G trial spectrum to operators in a number of bands. Jio and Airtel also have their own, recently purchased, spectrum to use.
The DoT’s hope for the 5G trials is to test such use cases as telemedicine, tele-education, augmented or virtual reality, and drone-based agricultural monitoring. It doesn’t appear that consumer trials are part of the programme at the moment.