Airtel 5G trial network begins in Mumbai, manages to hit speeds of over 1Gbps

Highlights
  • Airtel has successfully conducted a 5G trial in Lower Parel, Mumbai.
  • It used equipment made by Nokia and the 3,500MHz band to hit speeds upwards of 1Gbps.
  • Airtel is expected to conduct more trials in the coming weeks, this time in Kolkata.

5G trials in India are commencing at full speed. Last time, Airtel tested its 5G network in Gurgaon and managed to hit impressive speeds of over 1Gbps. This time around, Airtel conducted a second test run in Phoenix Mall, Lower Parel, Mumbai. It isn’t clear as to which network was tested, but it is likely sub-6GHz, as mmWave networks are still few and far between. Nonetheless, the speeds are quite impressive and are consistent across locations. We have to bear in mind that this is when the network is completely bereft of other users, and the real-world experience may vary.

Airtel is conducting the trial in the 3500 MHz Band using 5G gear from Nokia as per DoT guidelines. Although the official 5G spectrum auction isn’t due to happen anytime soon, the DoT has already allocated service providers some bandwidth to conduct trials. In Airtel’s case, it has the 3500 MHz, 28 GHz, and 700 MHz bands in Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru, respectively. We can expect to see more trails in these regions in the coming weeks. Airtel’s next destination for 5G trials is said to be Kolkata.

While these trials indicate that carriers are hard at work bringing 5G to the masses, it’ll be quite sometime before the average consumer gets to use it. Plus, working at full speed might not be possible in many locations due to local restrictions. At best, we’re probably looking at a 2023 rollout in metropolitan cities. Rural areas and interiors may have to wait even longer. However, telecom operators can repurpose some existing 4G infrastructure to double up as 5G radios, so things aren’t all that bad.