Endorsing the extent of Airtel’s aspirations was Gopal Vittal, chief executive office of Airtel who made a statement of intent to the media saying that the telco could commercially launch 5G services without the mid-band as its network supports the high-speed technology. “When we launch 5G and make it available commercially, it must have a full power of 5G instead of marketing. Delivering experience is a must and you need more spectrum, especially in the mid-band. That doesn’t mean 1800, 2300 and 2100 MHz can’t be used,” Vittal said. “True 5G will be enabled through mid-band.”
Airtel went ahead and conducted a successful demo of a live 5G commercial network in Hyderabad, over its existing liberalised spectrum in the 1800 MHz band through the NSA (Non Stand Alone) network technology. Using a first of its kind, dynamic spectrum sharing, Airtel seamlessly operated 5G and 4G concurrently within the same spectrum block.
The experiment has been conducted but it would be a while before 5G is launched using existing 4G brands since the 4G universe for devices and apps is in a stage of maturity. Having said that Vittal emphasized that “We have been working on this since last one year to make our networks 5G ready. It is a flick of a button. It is important to have the right amount of spectrum for true 5G.”