Bharti Airtel spent a total of $5.4 billion to secure 19,800 megahertz of spectrum in several bands to launch 5G
Indian carrier Bharti Airtel has signed 5G network agreements with Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung to start 5G deployments in the country.
In a release announcing the deals, Airtel noted that it expects to start deploying 5G later this month.
The Indian operator spent a total of $5.4 billion to secure 19,800 megahertz of spectrum in the 900 MHz, 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz, 3.3 GHz and 26 GHz bands in a recently auction carried out by the Indian government.
Gopal Vittal, managing director and CEO of Bharti Airtel said: “We are delighted to announce that Airtel will commence roll out of 5G services in August. Our network agreements are finalized and Airtel will work with the best technology partners from across the world to deliver the full benefits of 5G connectivity to our consumers. India’s transition into a digital economy will be led by telecom and 5G presents a game-changing opportunity to drive the digital transformation of industries, enterprises and the socio-economic development of India.”
The carrier noted its strategy to go with multiple vendors would enable it to roll out 5G services with a superior user experience, allowing it to pursue new use cases with enterprise and industry customers.
In a separate statement, Ericsson said that Airtel will deploy 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) products and solutions from the Ericsson Radio System and Ericsson microwave mobile transport solutions. Ericsson will provide 5G connectivity in 12 circles, or geographic regions, for Bharti Airtel.
Meanwhile, Nokia’s 5G RAN contract covers an approximately 45% market share, providing equipment from its AirScale portfolio, including modular and scalable baseband, as well as massive MIMO radios.
Airtel also said that this will be the first time that the carrier will work with Korean vendor Samsung Electronics.
Paul Cheun, president and head of the networks business at Samsung Electronics, said: “5G will have a powerful impact on India’s consumers and businesses—taking mobile experiences to a new level, introducing a gamut of enhanced capabilities and expanding what is possible. Samsung is excited to embark on this 5G journey with Airtel to deliver innovative solutions that will help advance India’s entrepreneurial spirit and open up a new paradigm for the country.”
Bharti Airtel said it aims to deploy 5G services across the country starting with some initial key cities.
The 5G spectrum auction in India concluded on August 1 and according to the country’s Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, local carriers purchased a total $19 billion worth of spectrum.
Reliance Jio walked away with the most spectrum, having spent $11 billion. Airtel won spectrum worth $5.4 billion, while Vodafone Idea received spectrum worth $2.4 billion. Finally, Adani purchased spectrum worth approximately $27 million, which it will use to offer private 5G network services.
According to Indian press reports, some of the cities that will initially have 5G services are Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Gandhinagar, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Jamnagar, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Pune.
5G is projected to account for almost 40% of mobile subscriptions in India – 500 million – by the end of 2027, according to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report.