By Jatin Grover
After launching 5G services in eight cities, Bharti Airtel is now looking at tapping the opportunity available in the wireless broadband space through this technology. According to a senior company official, Airtel will also provide 5G-enabled wireless access to rural areas along with the traditional way of providing services through fibre.
“5G fixed wireless access will significantly enhance digitisation of remote parts with low latency and high speed and we are investing in that,” the official told FE on the condition of anonymity.
“Today, if you are in a remote area, the only access you have is to use a dongle with 4G. We will make a significant amount of shift in making 5G the last-mile access for connectivity in remote branches,” the official added.
In the home broadband space, Bharti Airtel has been adding about more than 300,000 customers every quarter.
Rival Reliance Jio has also indicated repeating a 4G-like success with wireless 5G, especially in the home broadband space. The company has even launched Jio Air Fiber, a Wi-Fi device that will give fibre-like speed to consumers using the 5G network.
“As the uptake of fixed wireline connections and Wi-Fi hotspots has been slow in India, reliance on 5G-enabled fixed wireless access (FWA) will have significant advantages such as faster time to market, lower cost, no vendor lock-ins, over the air upgrades, in alignment with global standards and easy provisioning with existing infrastructure,” KPMG said in its recent report.
According to the report, with FWA, the communication service providers will have an extended range of network on the mmWave or 26 GHz spectrum band to provide connectivity in those areas where fixed broadband connectivity is not feasible.
Airtel has announced the launch of 5G in eight cities at present but it is yet to provide details on how the consumers can use the services.
Unlike its rival Jio, Airtel is adopting a non-standalone approach for launching 5G services. The non-standalone approach uses 5G technology over the top of a 4G network to provide high-speed 5G services.
The company has said that its reasons for launching 5G on non-standalone technology are the low cost of network rollout and evolved ecosystem.
Industry experts, however, believe that over a period of time, the companies will have to shift to the standalone mode of technology because of the growing use cases of 5G.