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Airtel and BSNL working on 5G network with Nokia

It is more of a preparatory phase for getting into 5G. The commercial launch of 5G network technology is likely to take place around 2019-2020 globally. 

Airtel and BSNL working on 5G network with NokiaProminent telco Bharti Airtel and state-run telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) are working with Nokia to transform existing networks to 5G network, with the telecom gear maker defining use cases around the technology that will be relevant for the Indian market.

The Finnish gear maker recently signed memorandum of understandings (MoUs) with market leader Airtel and BSNL.

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“Thoughts behind these MoUs would be to introduce 5G here, and what are the steps required for the same, besides identifying applications to define the target segment, which will lead to a complete 5G strategy for telcos,” Sanjay Malik, head of India market at Nokia, told ET.

In India, field and content and application trials will start around 2018, he said. Nokia already supplies 4G equipment for Airtel’s network in nine circles — Gujarat, Bihar, UP East, Mumbai, MP, West Bengal, Odisha, Punjab and Kerala. It recently emerged as the L1 (lowest) bidder for BSNL’s phase-8 expansion, and is currently working on an advanced purchase order (APO) for the telecom operator.

Malik added that BSNL is currently working on setting up the foundation for 5G. The Indian government is reportedly planning to auction spectrum in bands over 3,000 MHz. Amit Marwah, head, End-to-End Sales Solutioning, India Market at Nokia, termed it as a step in the right direction, adding that 3.5 GHz has been globally adopted so far for the first set of 5G.

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“5G is moving very fast, so it is important to start discovering and looking at the possibility of what spectrum exists in India and start working on it… if you look at the overall ecosystem and how 5G is developing, it is not only about 3.5 GHz or 700 MHz, but also about millimetre waves and centimetre waves and gigahertz of spectrum going forward,” Marwah said.

Nokia is creating an experience centre within its research and development center in Bengaluru to try to discover stakeholder requirements for 5G in India and push its efforts towards the new technology for India.

“Whole cycle of 2G took 10 years to develop in the world, 3G took less, and 4G even lesser. Today, India is sitting on par with any other place in the world in terms of technology, and we want to leverage that opportunity here,” Marwah explained.

He said that the idea behind doing the collaborations with telcos in India is to try to discover what’s more relevant for the local market and look at the possibility of rural connectivity, agricultural IoT (Internet of Things) which might be more relevant for the country

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