IMC 2018: Airtel 3.0 unveiled; 4 scenarios of telco’s 5G-powered digital platform vision

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New Delhi | Published: October 25, 2018 6:39:53 PM

Airtel 3.0 has been unveiled (Source: Reuters)

Airtel on Thursday announced the launch of Airtel 3.0 – the company’s vision to grow into a next-generation digital platform that will catapult the company’s realm in India. At the second edition of India Mobile Congress, Airtel showcased how 5G technologies such as connected home, connected car, AR-based holographic communication, and 360-degree VR applications will change the way users communicate with the smartphones and other interactive platforms.

The India Mobile Congress kicked off its second edition on October 25 where major industry stalwarts such as Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea, Samsung, Nokia, Ericsson, and Huawei are participating over deliberations on 5G telecommunication technology, which is impending to launch in the US as early as next year. Unlike the times when 4G rolled out in India, the government is placing big hopes on the IMC 2018 to drive the 5G revolution in the country in line with the US launch. By showcasing the use cases of 5G and its applications on a range of devices around us, Airtel has leapfrogged to become one of the first Indian companies to be 5G ready.

Reliance Jio spurred the growth of 4G connectivity in India back in 2016 with its lucrative offers that allowed the subscribers access to unlimited internet for money as low as the price of a one-time meal. The telecom upstart reported a base of 215 million users at the end of June this year. This is, however, considerably lower than the subscriber base of Airtel reported as late as April. In April, Airtel reached a user base of 308.6 million followed by addition of 35.9 million more subscribers to its network, including the migration of Telenor customers in May. With 5G demonstration at the IMC 2018, Airtel hopes to strengthen its market dominance by sweeping into the 5G revolution before it officially begins next year.

The 5G telecommunications comprises not only cellular communication but also how machines interact with one another – the best use case for which is the Internet of Things. With connected devices, users can reach out to as many devices as they want with a single command. For instance, a voice-controlled speaker connected to smart home devices will trigger a series of actions with just a command. Airtel 3.0 is all about how the company will help the proliferation of 5G ecosystem into users’ daily lives. It demonstrated a connected car, a concept that’s still evolving and more in its nascent days. Here are the four demonstrations by Airtel at the IMC 2018:

Connected Home: Powered by a 1Gbps V-Fiber broadband connection, Airtel demonstrated a “life-size” replica of connected home with smart devices and appliances. It consists of Airtel’s upcoming Android-based STB box, as well as a multi-screen digital platform to play content across devices within the premises.

Connected Car: As ambitiously futuristic as it sounds, Airtel has showcased what looks like the company’s foray into the automobile business with the connected cars. India is yet to catch up on electric cars used in full scale. However, Airtel believes that connected cars could become mainstream in India with the advent of 5G. Connected car will show how telemetry will be a key part of IoT.

Augmented Reality based Holographic Communication on 5G: In partnership with Huawei, Airtel demoed Augmented Reality-based holographic communication, thanks to 5G. It’s another futuristic application, straight from the sci-fi movies that show people transferring data from one device to another, both of which are conspicuously transparent, with just a swipe of a finger. AR is already on its way to becoming ubiquitous on all devices, more so because of intensive investments in R&D by big companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and now Airtel.

Next-gen BVLOS Autonomous Drones: Airtel also showcased its 5G-powered drones at the event. In partnership with Ericsson, Airtel presented the Beyond Visual Line of Sight automated drones for “next-generation of e-deliveries”. Not only will it be helpful in hyperlocal deliveries but also aid critical applications such as “disaster response & monitoring, emergency delivery services and remote surveillance of critical infrastructure by leveraging the high bandwidth and the ultra-low latency of 5G networks”.

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