Forget 4G, Indian telecom operators working with Nokia to deploy 5G

Indian telecom operators are finally feeling the need for speed.

For years, carriers in India have been criticised for being too slow at upgrading their networks, but that’s changing quickly. As Indian carriers push to bring 4G to the local market, two carriers are already working on getting 5G in place. 

Airtel, India’s largest telecom operator by subscribers count (for now) and struggling state-run operator BSNL have signed MoUs (memorandum of understanding) with networking giant Nokia to upgrade existing infrastructure to support 5G. 

Speaking to Economic Times, Sanjay Malik, head of India market at Nokia said, “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.”

Several telcos worldwide are testing 5G networks. However, we’re still four to five years away from a general commercial availability of such fast network. Malik said Airtel and BSNL want to be prepared for the next wave of network technology. 

It’s critical for both the operators to be among the first ones to support 5G. India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani last year launched the country’s first 4G-only network Reliance Jio. In less than seven months, the telecom operator has hit more than 100 million subscribers

What’s more, Reliance Jio’s infrastructure already supports 5G network, Ambani said at the time of launch of the carrier in September last year. 

It’s a welcome move for Indians, who have grown tired of being on slow internet networks. According to marketing research firm Counterpoint, more than 90 percent of India’s one billion plus mobile subscriber base were on slow 2G network at the end of last year. 

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