Airtel announced on Thursday that it has tested 5G over a commercial network in HITEC City, Hyderabad. The telco says it is the first provider to do so in the country, even as it has kept investor expectations on a full-scale 5G rollout modest. “Using a first of its kind, dynamic spectrum sharing, Airtel seamlessly operated 5G and 4G concurrently within the same spectrum block. This demonstration has emphatically validated the 5G readiness of Airtel’s network across all domains – Radio, Core and Transport,” Airtel said in a statement. The company said it used a 4G core for its tests, radio equipment from Ericsson, and two Oppo handsets with 5G capabilities to test data transfer speeds.
The company said it had achieved “10x speeds, 10x latency and 100x concurrency”. 10x latency presumably means 10x lower latency, as high latency is not a good thing, as it implies that data packets take a longer time to reach their destination. “The full impact of the 5G experience, however, will be available to our customers, when adequate spectrum is available and government approvals are received,” Airtel said in its announcement.
Jio said it had tested 5G tech in the United States with Qualcomm, and has previously said that its networks are already ready for 5G, with all but spectrum allotment being remaining. For now, however, the 5G race is less of a dash to deploy and more of a marketing effort across telcos, with many 5G-ready blocks of spectrum not even up for auction in March.