Airtel 5G test network begins in Mumbai, manages to reach speeds of over 1 Gbps


5G trials in India are getting under way. Last time, Airtel tested its 5G network in Gurgaon and managed to achieve impressive speeds of over 1Gbps. This time, Airtel carried out a second test at the Phoenix Mall, Lower Parel, Mumbai. It is not clear which network has been tested, but it is probably below 6 GHz, as mmWave networks are still rare. Still, the speeds are pretty impressive and consistent from location to location. We have to keep in mind that this is when the network is completely devoid of other users and the real world experience may vary.

Airtel is conducting the trial in the 3500 MHz band using Nokia 5G equipment in accordance with DoT guidelines. While the official 5G spectrum auction is not expected to take place any time soon, the DoT has already allocated service providers some bandwidth for testing. In Airtel’s case, it has the 3500 MHz, 28 GHz and 700 MHz bands at Delhi / NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru, respectively. We can expect to see more trails in these areas over the next few weeks. Airtel’s next destination for 5G testing would be Kolkata.

While these trials indicate carriers are working hard to bring 5G to the masses, it will be some time before the average consumer can use it. Additionally, working at full speed may not be possible in many locations due to local restrictions. At best, we’re probably looking at a rollout in 2023 in metropolitan cities. Rural areas and interiors may have to wait even longer. However, telecom operators can reuse some existing 4G infrastructure to turn them into 5G radios, so things aren’t going so bad.

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