Telcos Not Waiting for 5G, Busy Upgrading Network

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NEW DELHI: Indian telcos Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio have started to prepare their networks for the futuristic 5G technology introducing massive multiple input multiple output (MIMO) into their respective networks.
Massive MIMO is a key enabler for 5G networks that are expected to be rolled out after 2020. Bharti Airtel has already started with the first round of deployments in Bengaluru and Kolkata and will expand to Pune, Hyderabad and Chandigarh. Reliance Jio didn’t respond to ET’s queries for the story while No. 2 telco Vodafone and third ranked Idea are in the process of merging their operations.
“While 5G may still be a few years away, we are bringing some of 5G technologies like massive MIMO into 4G and applying them. We are conducting trials of this technology. It is very futuristic in 5G, but we are using it in 4G,” Vishant Vora, director, technology, Vodafone India, told ET.

“We are in the process of bringing massive MIMO on 4G in India,” Himanshu Kapania, managing director, Idea Cellular, told ET. Idea Cellular, which now has a pan-India 4G network, is trialing massive MIMO technology in various cities.

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio, which has all-IP network in India, had earlier said its 4G network can be easily be enhanced to 5G and beyond.

Massive MIMO ramps up a base station by five to seven times and reduces interference substantially hel ping boost transmission signal to the devices. A subscriber using voice and data will get data speed between 30 Mbps and 35 Mbps on average and even up to 50 Mbps during peak times. Comparatively , depending on one’s 4G plan, the mobile internet speed varies from 4 Mbps to 16 Mbps on paper.
The technology can be deployed in highly congested or high traffic areas, to improve indoor coverage and in high-rise buildings.

Analysts said the technology allows a telco to improve signal reception increasing link capacity so for the same amount of spectrum, one gets better spectral efficiency and data rates. For a customer it means much faster downloads.

 Currently, gear vendors like ZTEHuaweiEricsson and Nokia are working with telecom operators for trials of the technology in various circles.

Huawei and ZTE have taken the lead and commercially deployed massive MIMO technology for Airtel in India, while Ericsson is in talks with telcos over 5G technology solutions.

Jay Chen, CEO, Huawei India, said the Chinese gear vendor is working with all leading telecom operators for technologies like massive MIMO and 5G-oriented mobile bearer solution.

“The technology can significantly decrease networking costs. It will act as a gateway to 5G in India…there will be more commercial 5G related deployments in India,” he said.

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