Intel working with Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel on 5G for India

Intel said that it is helping Reliance Jio make the transition from 4G to 5G as part of their 5G infrastructure deal. Intel and Jio are collaborating in the areas of 5G radio, core, cloud, edge and artificial intelligence.

“…our collaboration spans those areas, and it’s co.innovation. So, we have got our engineering and business unit teams working closely with Reliance Jio in those areas. And we are committed towards helping customers and partners like Reliance Jio to make the transition from 4G to 5G,” Prakash Mallya, vice president and MD of sales, marketing and communications group at Intel told ET.

Intel’s investment arm, Intel Capital, had in 2020 invested Rs 1,894.50 crore to buy a 0.39% equity stake in Jio Platforms.

Separately, Bharti Airtel Wednesday said it is collaborating with  Intel for working towards 5G network development by leveraging Virtualized Radio Access Network (vRAN) and O-RAN technologies.

This is Intel’s second 5G-related partnership in India.  As per the above, Intel is collaborating with Reliance Jio to help India’s #1 telco with its 5G network development, including in the areas of 5G radio, core, cloud, edge, and artificial intelligence.

Airtel will deploy Intel’s 3rd-generation Xeon Scalable processors, FPGAs, and eASICS, and Ethernet 800 series across its network to build a foundation for rolling out wide-scale 5G, mobile edge computing (MEC) and network slicing which requires a 5G SA core network.

The partnership will also allow Airtel to tap into the hyperconnected world where Industry 4.0, cloud gaming, and virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR) become an integral part of daily lives, according to an official statement.

Earlier this year, Airtel became the first telecom operator in India to demonstrate 5G over a live network in Hyderabad using liberalized spectrum.

The Sunil Mittal-led Bharti is also conducting 5G trials in major cities such as Gurgaon’s Cyber Hub in the Millennium city and in Mumbai’s Phoenix Mall in Lower Parel, in partnership with Swedish Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia, respectively, ET previously reported.

Airtel also entered into a partnership with Tata Sons and Tata Consultancy Services to deploy OpenRAN 5G solutions, including radio and core. It plans to begin pilot in January 2022.

Jio has developed and tested its homegrown 5G solutions together with its partners in India and plans to export the solutions to global markets once proven at a pan-India scale.

Prakash Mallya, vice president and MD of sales, marketing and communications group at Intel recently told ET that the company is helping Indian telecom operators. On Jio partnership, he said that Intel is helping the Mukesh Ambani-led telco transition from 4G to 5G as part of their 5G infrastructure deal.

Intel’s investment arm, Intel Capital, had in 2020 invested India Rupees 1,894.50 crore to buy a 0.39% equity stake in Jio Platforms.

Randeep Sekhon, CTO – Bharti Airtel said, “Airtel is delighted to have Intel as a part of its rapidly expanding partner ecosystem for 5G. Intel’s cutting-edge technologies and experience will contribute immensely to Airtel’s mission of serving India with world-class 5G services. We also look forward to working with Intel and home-grown companies to unlock India’s potential as a global 5G hub.”

“Airtel is delivering their next-generation enhanced network with a breadth of Intel technology, including Intel Xeon Scalable processors and FlexRAN software to optimize RAN workloads with embedded intelligence, to scale their infrastructure and deliver on the promise of a connected India,” Dan Rodriguez, Intel corporate vice president, Network Platforms Group said in a joint statement.

References:

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/intel-helping-jio-transition-from-4g-to-5g-india-md/84608834

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/after-jio-intel-lands-new-o-ran-5g-network-deal-with-airtel/84611108

https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/wireless-network/5g-business-opportunity-infographic.html

https://cmte.ieee.org/comsoc-tech-blog/2020/07/20/reliance-jio-claim-complete-5g-solution-from-scratch-with-100-home-grown-technologies/

https://cmte.ieee.org/comsoc-tech-blog/2020/05/21/india-telecom-revenue-to-slow-through-march-2021-5g-spectrum-auction-delayed-yet-again/

 

India to start long delayed spectrum auction on March 1st

India is FINALLY set to hold its first spectrum auction for four years on March 1st when it offers up 2,250 MHz of spectrum across seven bands ranging from 700 MHz to 2.5 GHz.  Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea  (Vi) are expected to bid for airwaves worth Rs 3.92 lakh crore at base price. Industry analysts see a muted response, given the strained condition of the telecom sector, and expect the government to generate only Rs 40,000-50,000 crore from the sale.

Editors Note:

One rupee crore, as of 2014, is approximately equivalent to $163,720, using the exchange rate of 61.07 rupees per U.S. dollar. In the south Asian numbering system, a crore is equivalent to 10 million.

lakh is a unit in the Indian numbering system equal to one hundred thousand (100,000; scientific notation: 105).

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The sale will help Reliance Jio renew a chunk of expiring spectrum permits and offer Bharti Airtel and Vi a chance to add to their bandwidth holdings as data usage rises. Experts expect Jio, the only profit-making carrier, to be the main buyer and spend close to Rs 20,000-30,000 crore, followed by Airtel at Rs 10,000-15,000 crore, and Vi pitching in with a few thousand crores by bidding for only some airwaves. The spending will add to the telcos’ debt, making tariff hikes more likely.

ETD-1-07012021

SOURCE:  Economic Times of India

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The main objectives of the auction were to obtain a “market-determined price for the spectrum on offer, ensure efficient use of spectrum and avoid hoarding,” stimulate competition in the sector and maximize revenue proceeds, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said in the NIA.

The government is putting on sale 660 MHz in the 700 MHz band, 230 MHz in 800 MHz band, 81.4 MHz in 900 MHz band, 313.6 MHz in 1800 MHz band, 175 MHz in 2100 MHz band, 560 MHz in 2300 MHz band and 230 MHz in 2500 MHz band.  Indian telcos have spent nearly Rs 3.7 lakh crore over six spectrum auctions since 2010. But this is the first time there are likely to be only three bidders.

COAI, the industry body that represents the telcos, said the government had addressed the requirement for availability of more spectrum. But lower reserve prices would have provided additional resources for network expansion for the telcos. “High reserve prices (in the past) have resulted in large amounts of spectrum remaining unsold,” said COAI in a statement.

COAI said the auction will enable the industry to cater to the exponential increase in data usage which will facilitate in supporting the Digital India vision. “While the government has addressed the requirement for the availability of more spectrum, lowering the reserve prices would have provided additional resources for network expansion to the telcos. High reserve prices in past auctions have resulted in large amounts of spectrum remaining unsold. We hope the Govt. will take additional measures to boost the financial health of the industry, which is the backbone of a digitally connected India,” COAI DG SP Kochhar said.

In the premium 4G spectrum (700 MHz), Trai had reduced the reserve price by 43% compared to 2016 auctions, at Rs 6,568 crore per MHz, for a pan-India 5 MHz block, still, operators would have to shell out Rs 32,840 crore, which is seen as quite high. In the 2016 auctions, the government had mopped a total amount of Rs 65,789 crore, 4% over the reserve price, from the country’s six operators who participated in the bidding. However, this was a lukewarm response as only 965 MHz spectra got sold against a total of 2,353 MHz put up on sale, meaning that only 40% got sold.

According to analysts, Reliance Jio may be the only buyer of some airwaves in the premium 700 MHz band, with its rivals likely giving it a miss, despite a 43% cut in the base price from the 2016 sale, when they went unsold. This band alone is valued at Rs 2.3 lakh crore, with the rest of the bands worth Rs 1.62 lakh crore, at base price, according to brokerage Motilal Oswal.

While the NIA has clauses to factor in new entrants, including foreign players, industry experts say it’s unlikely that any new player will join the fray, given the dire state of the industry with debt of over Rs 8 lakh crore, weak pricing power and only one profit-making telco.

“Jio will focus on 800 MHz for renewal and adding capacity as its market share increases. Vi may look at optimization of spectrum since it has surplus airwaves in the 1800 MHz while Airtel will look at 1800 MHz as well,” said Rajiv Sharma, a telecom expert. “…this auction will further add to the operators’ debt, which in turn gets them closer to tariff hikes.”

The base rate of airwaves in the efficient 800 MHz band was pegged at Rs 4,745 crore a unit, which is around 20% less than the previously recommended minimum of Rs 5,819 crore a unit for 2016. The starting price for 1800 MHz spectrum though was set higher at Rs 3,291 crore a unit, compared with Rs 2,873 crore a unit previously.

A substantial portion of Jio’s own airwaves and those it shares with Reliance Communications in the 800 MHz band expires in 12 and 14 circles, respectively, starting July 2021. Without these airwaves, Jio’s services in these circles will be impacted, making it imperative that the telco bid for them, analysts said.   Jio, with over 406 million subscribers, also needs additional airwaves to cater to surging data demand and a rapidly growing user base that it expects to touch 500 million.

Airtel and Vi – with about 294 and 272 million users, respectively – own less expensive spectrum, mostly in the 1800 MHz band, set to expire across eight circles each from July. Both of those telcos have backup airwaves in most service areas. Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal has previously said that the company will look mainly for for sub-1 GHz spectrum.

For spectrum which isn’t immediately available and which will be assigned beyond one month of the close of this auction, the component of the upfront payment payable will be 10% of the bid amount for sub-1 GHz bands, and 20% of the bid amount for other bands. “…and the balance component of upfront payment (total of which is 25% for sub-1 GHz and 50% for other bands) shall be made one month prior to the ‘effective date’,” the DoT said.

References:

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/telecom/telecom-policy/spectrum-auction-to-start-on-march-1/articleshow/80133307.cms

https://www.financialexpress.com/industry/government-to-hold-spectrum-auction-on-march-1/2165852/4

India ramps up supply chain for 5G service launch in 2021 pending spectrum auction

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2020/12/28/economic-times-indias-big-bet-on-5g-in-2021-starts-with-5g-spectrum-auction/

https://www.lightreading.com/asia/indias-govt-advised-to-make-5g-spectrum-more-affordable/d/d-id/766994?

 

Reliance Jio may deploy 5G SA while Bharti Airtel to trial both 5G NSA and SA

Reliance Jio may launch its much touted 5G services using the next generation 5G standalone (GSMA Option 2) architecture for its network, Business Standard reported.

The telco may skip the current non-standalone 5G. The NSA 5G architecture enables operators to leverage their existing investments in their 4G LTE networks and reduce capital costs.  Mukesh Ambani recently said that Jio intends to roll-out 5G services in India in the second half of 2021.

Reliance Jio's Made-in-India 5G Solution Could Spell The End Of Huawei's Global 5G Ambitions

Image Credit:  Reliance Jio

Conversely, Sunil Mittal of Bharti Airtel said that 5G will take 2-3 years to reach mass scale in India’s market.  Nonetheless, Airtel recently applied for both NSA and SA 5G trials to test its network architecture.

“Even though the majority of countries are offering 5G using NSA, SA is also being used for 5G services. Airtel feels it’s a good time to test its network using both modes,” a person familiar with the development told ETTelecom.

Airtel is planning to do Standalone 5G trials in Karnataka and Kolkata using Nokia and Ericsson 5G gear, respectively. In both circles, ZTE and Huawei currently power the Sunil Mittal-led telco’s 4G network.

Non-standalone (NSA) and standalone (SA) are two 5G tracks that communication service providers can opt for when transitioning from 4G to the next-generation mobile technology. In NSA, the existing 4G LTE network is used for everything except the 5G data plane, which is usually based on 3GPP Release 15 version of 5G NR.  5G NSA enables operators to leverage their existing investments in their 4G LTE networks and reduce capital costs, but it can’t support new 5G features such as network slicing.

Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and BSNL recently submitted a list of “preferred vendors” which includes European and American companies for 5G field trials with the telecom department (DoT).

Jio had submitted fresh applications for 5G trials with Samsung, Nokia, Ericsson, and for its own 5G technology. The largest Indian telco recently submitted an application trial of its own 5G technology in South Mumbai and Navi Mumbai areas, while it intends to do trials with Samsung in other areas like Bandra Kurla complex, Kamothe Navi Mumbai, and Solapur with Maharashtra.

Jio intends to 5G trials with Nokia in Pune and Ahmednagar, and with Ericsson in Delhi areas like Chandani chowk and Shashtri Nagar and in Dabwali in Haryana.

References:

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/jio-may-launch-5g-using-standalone-architecture-airtel-to-test-both-sa-and-nsa-5g/79832720

https://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/reliance-jio-to-go-for-next-generation-network-architecture-for-5g-120122100020_1.html

Ambani: Reliance Jio to deploy 5G network in second half of 2021

Ambani: Reliance Jio to deploy 5G network in second half of 2021

Reliance Jio today announced that it will roll-out 5G services in India in the second half of 2021. The announcement was made by the company’s CEO, Mukesh Ambani (Asia’s richest man) at the fourth annual (online this year due to COVID-19) of the India Mobile Congress.

Ambani revealed that the company plans to implement 5G service in the second half of 2021, while restating that the 5G network by the company will be built indigenously.  Jio is likely to be the first service provider to bring the technology to the country.  It’s believed to be based on Open RAN technology, but that has yet to be confirmed by Jio.

“India is today among the best digitally connected nations in the world. In order to maintain this lead, policy steps are needed to accelerate the early rollout of 5G, and to make it affordable and available everywhere. I assure you that Jio will pioneer the 5G Revolution in India in the second half of 2021. It will be powered by the indigenous-developed network, hardware and technology components.”

Jio has developed its own 5G solution, which it hopes to sell in different countries after deploying it in its own network.  Jio Platforms, with over 20 startup partners, is building capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, big data, machine learning and blockchain.  Jio Platforms raised funding of more than $20 billion earlier this year. Several firms, including Qualcomm, Google and Facebook, invested in the company.

“Jio’s 5G service will be a testimony to your inspiring vision of Atma Nirbhar Bharat. I can say with utmost confidence that 5G will enable India to not only participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution but also to lead it.”

 Reliance Jio will roll out 5G services in India in 2021, confirms Mukesh Ambani

“The Indian economy will not only bounce back but will also grow with unprecedented acceleration. India can — and India will — prove cynics wrong by becoming a $5 trillion economy. It will be a More Equal India… With increased incomes, increased employment, and improved quality of life for 1 billion Indians at the Middle and Bottom of the Economic Pyramid.”

You can watch a video of Ambani’s speech here along with news reporter commentary.

Earlier this year, Qualcomm had announced that it was working with Jio Platforms and its wholly owned subsidiary, Radisys Corporation, to develop open and interoperable interface compliant architecture based 5G solutions with a virtualized RAN.  The two companies had achieved the 1Gbit/s milestone on Jio’s 5G New Radio (NR) software.

While Jio has been asking the government to expedite the 5G spectrum auction, the other private telcos, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, believe India is not yet ready for 5G technology.  In particular, Bharti Airtel’s chairman Sunil Mittal claiming that the rollout of 5G technology in India will take another two-three years. Mittal has said that the next generation of mobile technology will need more time to be rolled out across the country. Airtel’s decision makers, including its chief executive, Gopal Vittal, has said in the past that the ecosystem for 5G is underdeveloped and that spectrum is expensive.

Ambani concluded his address saying, ” We are about to step into a glorious decade of the India story, with the Digital India Mission playing the role of the principal accelerator. Nothing can stop India’s rise, not even COVID-19. This is our chance to create history.”

References:

https://www.indiatoday.in/technology/news/story/jio-5g-to-be-available-from-2021-confirms-mukesh-ambani-1747646-2020-12-08

https://www.lightreading.com/asia/indias-jio-to-launch-5g-in-2021/d/d-id/765966?

https://www.timesnownews.com/business-economy/companies/article/jio-will-pioneer-5g-revolution-in-india-in-second-half-of-2021-says-mukesh-ambani/691870

https://tech.hindustantimes.com/tech/news/mukesh-ambani-hints-at-5g-rollout-in-the-second-half-of-2021-71607407410019.html

https://gadgets.ndtv.com/telecom/news/jio-5g-service-launch-india-rollout-second-half-2021-mukesh-ambani-2335646

Reliance Jio claim: Complete 5G solution from scratch with 100% home grown technologies

Indian wireless upstart Reliance Jio has developed its own 5G solution “from scratch,” according to Jio Chairman Mukesh Ambani (India’s richest man). The company plans to launch “a world-class 5G service in India…using 100% home grown technologies and solutions,” he said in a statement at the Reliance Industries annual shareholders meeting.  “Once Jio’s 5G solution is proven at India-scale, Jio Platforms would be well-positioned to be an exporter of 5G solutions to other telecom operators globally, as a complete managed service,” he added.

–>Please see references 1. and 2. below for video clips of Ambani’s speech.

The company’s equipment is ready for deployment this year, as soon as 5G spectrum is available, Ambani said (more details below). A roll-out will be relatively easy, thanks to its existing all-IP 4G network, according to Ambani.

The development supports the India government’s local production push, to develop home-grown alternatives to technology from China (Huawei, ZTE), Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, etc.  Ambani did not outline the exact components developed, but he said the company would look to export the 5G system to other countries as well.

Nor did he comment on India’s IMT 2020 Low Mobility Large Cell (LMLC) submission from TSDSI which is moving forward as a 5G Radio Interface Technology (RIT) that will be standardized by ITU-R in IMT-2020.SPECS late this year.

The regulatory environment for Jio has been incredibly benign for its entire existence, from being given a special national license to the crippling historical license fees being imposed on its competitors. As a result Jio now sees itself as the world’s first ‘super operator’ and it seems to have the full backing of the Indian state in that ambition.

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The Business Standard reports that Jio has applied to the Department of Telecom for trial 5G spectrum. The company is reportedly seeking 800 MHz in the mmWave bands 26 and 24 GHz and 100 MHz in the 3.5 GHz band for field trials of its new network in a few metro areas.

If Jio really does have 5G Radio and Core technology, it will be in competition with global wireless network infrastructure giants, such as Huawei, ZTE, Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung, which dominate the global wireless telecom market.

According to India Department of Telecom (DOT) sources, Jio has said its 5G network solution is ready and it can start trials immediately after spectrum is allocated. It has also revealed that it took the company three years and a few hundred engineers to turn this dream into reality.  DOT sources say that, in a communication on July 17th, Jio made a strong pitch for spectrum in the mmwave band, arguing that countries like the US, South Korea, Japan, and Canada are veering towards preference of the 28- GHZ band for 5G deployment, while others like Australia, the UK, and European countries want to be in the 26- GHZ band.

Jio’s reasoning is that, given its plans to offer its 5G products in the global market, it is essential for it to have trial runs of the technology on these crucial frequency bands. It plans to test and successfully deploy the 5G technology on its own network, after which it can be sold overseas to other wireless telcos.

Moreover, it would like to test the technology in dense urban environments in India.  Once it has proved itself there, it’s likely to work well in large big cities overseas.

As a result, Jio has requested that 800 MHZ of spectrum be assigned to it in 26.5–29.5 GHZ and 24.25-27.5 GHZ in the mmWave bands.  It has also asked for 100 MHZ in the 3.5- GHZ mid spectrum band.

The government’s upcoming auction process is expected to kick-start by August, but it might be limited to only 4G spectrum. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has currently given its recommendation for the base price of spectrum in the 3.5-GHZ band for 5G auctions and not for mmwave bands. The DOT is expected to inform the regulator soon about the pricing of the mmwave bands for auction.

The Jio announcement comes at a time when Chinese telecom gear makers Huawei and ZTE face serious challenges, with numerous countries banning the use of their 5G equipment which they allege is, or can be, used by China to spy on them. Samsung is one player that is overly dependent on Jio as it is Jio’s largest client for 4G telecom gear and had earlier applied to the government to undertake 5G trial runs together. Jio’s 5G technology is based on a ‘virtualised 5G network’, which will ensure the current hardware-dependent networks shift to software-centric platforms.

This poses a challenge to current networks, which are based on proprietary technology, where both the hardware and software have to be bought from the same vendor, who then maintains and upgrades the system, leaving operators with limited flexibility.

The new networks being developed will be built on open platforms, so that operators will have the choice of buying hardware or software separately from different vendors or even building the latter on their own on an open platform. They could also ally with information technology companies to undertake system integration between the hardware and software and run the networks.

Apart from flexibility, this will bring down network costs substantially for 5G. According to cloud-native network software provider Mavenir, the new virtualized networks would lead to a saving of 40 per cent in capital expenditure and 34 per cent in terms of lower operations cost for operators.

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References:

 

https://www.pressreader.com/india/business-standard/20200720/281573768006663

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/telecom/telecom-news/reliance-jio-seeks-spectrum-for-5g-trials-plans-to-sell-tech-overseas/articleshow/77072725.cms

https://telecoms.com/505654/jio-lobbies-for-a-head-start-on-its-5g-network/

Massive MIMO Deployments in India: Bharti Airtel vs. Vodafone Idea?

by Danish Khan  (edited and augmented by Alan J Weissberger)

The deployment of massive MIMO [1] technology has led to a series of claims and counter claims between India wireless network operators Vodafone Idea Ltd. (VIL) and Bharti Airtel. Both privately held telcos claim that they lead in terms of the deployment size of this pre-5G technology.

Note 1.  Massive multiple-input, multiple-output, or massive MIMO, is an extension of MIMO, which essentially groups together antennas at the transmitter and receiver to provide better throughput and better spectrum efficiency.

Moving from MIMO to massive MIMO, according to IEEE, involves making “a clean break with current practice through the use of a large excess of service antennas over active terminals and time-division duplex operation. Extra antennas help by focusing energy into ever smaller regions of space to bring huge improvements in throughput and radiated energy efficiency.”

Many different configurations and deployment scenarios for the actual antenna arrays used by a massive MIMO system can be envisioned (see Fig. 1). Each antenna unit would be small and active, preferably fed via an optical or electric digital bus.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Some possible antenna configurations and deployment scenarios for a massive MIMO base station.

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In a statement, Huawei said that Bharti Airtel has deployed more than 100 hops of enhanced MIMO microwave link based on the latest MIMO technology developed by the Chinese gear maker. The deployment, Huawei said, will deliver 1Gbps capacity over a single 28 Mhz spectrum, improving the backhaul capacity by four times.

“Bharti implements the largest-scale MIMO deployment around the world,” Huawei said in the statement. Airtel had made its first commercial deployment of massive MIMO in September 2017.

Bharti Airtel today (Sept 26, 2017) announced the deployment of India’s first state-of-the-art Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) technology which is a key enabler for 5G networks. As one of the few commercial deployment of Massive MIMO globally, the deployment puts India on the world map of technology advancement and digital revolution. Airtel is starting with the first round of deployment in Bangalore & Kolkata and will expand to other parts of the country.

Deployed as part of Airtel’s ongoing network transformation program, Project Leap, the Massive MIMO technology will expand existing network capacity by five to seven times using the existing spectrum, thereby improving spectral efficiency. Customers will now be able to experience two to three times superfast speeds on the existing 4G network. Data speeds will now also be seamless, offering enhanced user experience even indoors, in crowded places and high rise buildings. It would enable multiple users and multiple devices to work simultaneously without facing any congestion or experience issues especially at hotspot locations.

But in an interview with ET last week, Vodafone Idea chief technology officer, Vishant Vora had claimed that it was the leader in MIMO deployments in India. “We have deployed over 10,000 massive MIMOs in India. This is the largest deployment of massive MIMOs in India and neither of my two competitors has that. They are 100-200 and we are at 10,000 plus. This is the largest deployment outside China and in the world,” Vora said.

Vodafone Idea told ET this past March:

Vodafone Idea has deployed more than 5000 massive MIMO, small cells and TDD sites across Church gate, Prabhadevi, Pali hill, Lokhandwala, Versova, Andheri, Jogeshwari, Bandra and Dadar among other regions.  The telco has also installed over 1900 indoor coverage solutions for high rises and commercial places.

“With meticulous pre-merger planning and rigorous post-merger execution, we have ensured that our customers remain confidently connected and enjoy uninterrupted services even as we integrate and optimize our network in a phased manner across circles,” said Vishant Vora, CTO, Vodafone Idea.

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Huawei is also providing 4G equipment and massive MIMO technology to Vodafone Idea in seven circles.  Huawei didn’t provide additional information.

The MIMO technology achieves four times capacity with same spectrum, allowing a telecom operator to build a 5G-ready transport network without investment in additional spectrum .  MIMO deployment also allows telcos to address the capacity-related network issues in urban areas in India, besides deploying new sites to provide coverage in rural parts.

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio has also started to deploy massive MIMO technology in some of the metro cities that are seeing huge traffic growth resulting in bad data speed experience.

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References:

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/massive-mimo-airtel-and-vodafone-idea-stake-claim-with-deployment-size/71404917

https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6736761

https://www.airtel.in/press-release/09-2017/airtel-deploys-massive-mimo-indias-first-5g-capable-technology

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/vodafone-idea-enhances-network-capacity-in-mumbai/68359629

UBS: 5G capex at $30 billion for India telcos; 5G spectrum auction by January 2020?

UBS analysts say that India’s top three telecom operators will have to spend a little over $30 billion on 5G base stations and fiber infrastructure. According to UBS, the need for a dense site footprint and fiber backhaul for 5G access networks will likely shift the balance of power towards larger and integrated operators with strong balance sheets.

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea would need $10 billion capex each over the next five years.

“Bharti has solidly defended its market share and has narrowed the gap with Jio on 4G network reach, with improving 4G net adds. The company recently revamped its digital offering and launched converged digital proposition ‘Airtel Xstream’ offering digital content across TV, PC and mobile devices along with IoT solutions for connected homes. Further, Jio’s recently announced fixed broadband plans starting at Rs 699 are not as aggressive as we (and the market) feared and, therefore, do not pose significant pricing pressure on Bharti’s broadband average revenue per user,” UBS said in a research note to clients.

Reliance Jio’s incremental 5G capex is estimated somewhat lower at around $8 billion.  That’s because Jio already has more 5G-ready fiberised towers than the incumbents, having already spent around $2 billion on tower fiberization.

Analysts were skeptical about Vodafone Idea’s ability to sustain such big-ticket capex spends given its continuing market share losses and weak financials, which they said could limit its 5G deployment ambitions.

They also said the need for a dense site footprint and fibre backhaul in 5G would shift the balance of power towards larger and integrated operators with strong balance sheets like Jio and Airtel, while those with high gearing levels are at risk given the sustained high capex needs.

“Airtel and Vodafone Idea will each need to spend $2 billion annually on 5G radio and fiber capex spread across 5 years,” UBS said in a report, implying 65% and 85% of Airtel’s and Vodafone Idea’s current annual India capex run rates respectively.

By contrast, Jio’s 5G capex, “would be lower due to its larger tower footprint and higher proportion of towers on fibre backhaul compared with Airtel and Vodafone Idea.”  The brokerage firm also expects Jio to transition to 5G in a “time-efficient manner,” given its in-house data centres and investments in a content distribution network (CDN).

“Vodafone Idea’s stretched balance sheet will limit its participation in the 5G opportunity, and the company will require a significant improvement in network quality to arrest market share loss and revert to revenue growth,” UBS said.

Credit Suisse backed the view, saying, “Vodafone Idea will lose the most market share, and will need additional equity capital by FY2021, given our expectation of no price increase”.

UBS estimates that Airtel’s India mobile revenue will grow 5-6% in this financial year and the next even if interconnect usage charges – a source of revenue for incumbents – get scrapped from January 2020.

According to analysts, the India telecom sector can reduce overall estimated $30.5 billion 5G capex spends by 15-20% if Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Jio share towers and fiber resources.  However, there is currently no progress on that front.

“We estimate the sector can reduce overall capex by 15-20 per cent if the three Indian telcos share towers and fiber (either commercially or driven by the regulator) – third-party tenancy poses upside risks to our estimates,” UBS said in its report.

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India’s Department of Telecommunications wants to hold a 5G spectrum sale by January 2020 at the latest, according to referenced sources.

Credit Suisse doesn’t expect that 5G spectrum sale to attract much interest.  That’s due to a mix of “high reserve prices, telcos’ focus on monetising 4G investments, stretched balance sheets, a nascent 5G ecosystem and lack of significant 5G use cases for mass consumption.”

Rajiv Sharma, co-head of research at SBICap Securities, said that Vodafone Idea is unlikely to bid for 5G spectrum at current base prices “as the telco doesn’t have an existing pan-India 4G network that is essential for any telco planning to spend top dollars on 5G,” according to the report.

Analysts believe that Reliance Jio will probably take part in the process, as it is the only profit-making telco in the Indian market.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had recently asked the Trai to lower the starting prices, which the regulator refused.  “There was a chance for the Trai to reduce 5G prices. Let’s see what the DoT does now. But at current rates, Airtel won’t buy,” Airtel’s executive reportedly said.

Vodafone Idea CEO Balesh Sharma has previously said that the prices recommended by the regulator were ‘exorbitant.’ The telco said it will participate in the next auction but did not confirm if it would buy 5G spectrum.

Hemant Joshi, partner at Deloitte India, said it would be “prudent to defer the 5G auction till 2020 at least since at Trai’s recommended base prices, the industry response may be very lukewarm.” He also said that the reserve prices need to be lowered, taking into account the experiences in countries where 5G spectrum was recently auctioned.

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Analysts said there are three things that India’s Centre for Telecom Excellence (within the DoT) must do immediately to hasten the adoption of 5G:

First, lay down a clear roadmap of spectrum availability and specify frequency bands aligned with global standards (IMT 2020 from ITU-R). Given that 5G services will be supporting massive data applications, operators will need adequate spectrum.

Editor’s Note:  India’s TSDSI has proposed a candidate IMT 2020 RIT based on Low Mobility Large Cell (LMLC), but it hasn’t yet been accepted by ITU-R WP 5D.  TSDSI posted a revised and more comprehensive proposal on 10 September 2019, which will be evaluated at the next ITU-R WP 5D meeting in December.

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Second, there is a need to move away from the existing mechanism of pricing spectrum on a per MHz basis. 5G services require at least 80-100 Mhz of contiguous spectrum per operator. If the Centre were to fix the floor price based on the per Mhz price realised in the last auction then no operator would be able to afford buying 5G spectrum. The pricing, therefore, will have to be worked out anew, keeping in mind the financial stress in the telecom sector and affordability of services.

Finally, the Centre must rapidly complete the national fiber optic network rollout as 5G high speed services will require huge back-haul support for which existing microwave platforms will not be sufficient.

References:

Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Jio wants to connect next billion in India

Infrastructure and affordability barriers are being broken in India by Reliance Industries Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani and his initiatives, a new survey said on Friday.  According to the survey by Booking Holdings, a growing affluence has lifted over a billion people out of poverty, creating a new middle class — in many countries for the first time — and driving a growth in consumer demand.  Asked which factors were driving, or were likely to drive, increased internet adoption, the respondents highlighted pull factors like the increased availability of high-quality infrastructure, improved affordability and better public understanding of the internet as factors that would drive increased uptake.

Asked which factors were driving, or were likely to drive, increased internet adoption, the respondents highlighted pull factors like the increased availability of high-quality infrastructure, improved affordability and better public understanding of the internet as factors that would drive increased uptake.

“This ties in neatly with the infrastructure — as opposed to the human — barriers, the removal of which our respondents identified as being key to unleashing the potential of the Next Billion.

“With projects such as the $35 billion investment in 4G by Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani, these barriers are quickly coming down in India,” the report emphasised.

As on March 31, the subscriber base of Reliance Jio stood at 306.7 million. The average data consumption per user per month was 10.9 GB and average voice consumption 823 minutes per user per month.

“We at Jio are truly overwhelmed and proud to now serve over 300 million subscribers. The growth in data and voice traffic at this scale has been unparalleled,” Mukesh Ambani said.

Mukesh Ambani breaking all barriers to connect next billion

The average Jio customer data consumption per user per month was 10.9 GB and average voice consumption 823 minutes per user per month.

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For the survey, Booking Holdings surveyed tech experts and tech leaders in three markets — China, India and Indonesia.  Nearly 74 per cent respondents in India said internet access is a basic necessity.

One of the most heartening and economically significant impacts of the expansion of connectivity in Asia was the corresponding improvement in the lives of women and girls.

Nearly 79 per cent of respondents said gender was not a barrier to internet adoption in their country.

“Nearly 86 per cent said that increased gender equality would drive adoption and 91 per cent said greater digital participation would also improve gender equality in their country,” the findings showed.

By large majorities, the respondents expected their countrymen and women to benefit from digital inclusion in ways that would help them become more educated and more prosperous — allowing the connected to rise up the social ladder.

“This aspirational edge to gathering digital transformation of all three countries reveals a growing individualistic and entrepreneurial culture that would not be out of place in Silicon Valley,” the survey noted.

According to Glenn Fogel, CEO, Booking Holdings, much of this explosion of commerce and entrepreneurship is due to the growing availability and ease of internet connectivity in Asia.

“In India, the e-commerce market is expected to quadruple in size between 2017 and 2022 to a value of $150 billion… Asians are going online to sell and to shop,” he said.

Reference:
https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/mukesh-ambani-breaking-all-barriers-to-connect-next-billion/69277389

Will Reliance Jio overtake Bharti Airtel today to become India’s 2nd largest telecom operator?

By: – Published: May 6, 2019. Edited for clarity by Alan J Weissberger, IEEE Techblog Content Manager

The race to become India’s second largest telecom operator between Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio is still on.  With Airtel’s Q4 results due on Monday, it will soon become clear if Mukesh Ambani’s Jio will actually climb the ladder and outshine Sunil Bharti Mittal’s company.

With 29 crore wireless subscribers towards the end of February 2019, Reliance Jio has emerged as a tough competitor to many telecom operators in India. Considering Jio’s growth trend in the previous few quarters, it may even leave behind Vodafone-Idea, dethroning it as the current largest telecom firm in India.

While other telecom operators have mostly maintained a ‘lose’ or ‘barely growing’ trend on the subscriber base, Reliance Jio has been the only telecom which maintained a ‘gain’ streak throughout the year 2018.  For the QE Sep-Dec 18, Reliance Jio was the only private telco (along with PSU BSNL) to gain subscribers while both small and large players, including Vodafone-Idea, registered mostly negative growth. Jio had added close to 3 crore subscribers in that quarter, according to TRAI’s Indian Telecom Services Performance Report. In the year 2018, Reliance Jio has continued to add more than 2.5 crore subscribers every quarter.

Reliance Jio’s own reported user base tells a similar story. In its Jan-Mar 2019 quarterly results details, Reliance Jio reported over 30 crore subscribers at the end of March. Bharti Airtel is due to report its March-end user base today, along with its quarterly results.

NOTE: Crore is an Indian term that =ten million; or = 100 lakhs, especially of rupees, units of measurement, or people.

Reliance Jio vs Airtel vs Vodafone Idea: Detailed descriptions of plans here. Check which is best for you

Reliance Jio vs Airtel vs Vodafone Idea: Who will emerge as India’s largest telecom operator?

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As of February 2019:

  • Vodafone-Idea had over 40 crore users (wireline and wireless combined),
  • Bharti Airtel had over 34 crore users.
  • Reliance Jio was strong with a little less than 30 crore subscribers (TRAI figures). Vodafone-Idea leads in terms of market share for wireless subscribers with 34.58% share.
  • Bharti Airtel’s market share is 28.75%, while Reliance Jio is inching closer with 25.11%.

In terms of wireline market share, BSNL leads with more than half the subscription hold, followed by Bharti Airtel at 18.95%. For broadband services, Reliance Jio topples all other telecom operators with a 54% share in the market.

https://www.financialexpress.com/industry/will-reliance-jio-overtake-bharti-airtel-today-to-become-indias-2nd-largest-telecom-operator/1569268/

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Update- May 21, 2019:  Jio adds 9.4 million customers in March, Airtel, Vodafone-Idea lose

: Reliance Jio has added 9.4 million customers while India’s teledensity has declined 1.82% to 90.11%, from 91.86% in March 2019 with active wireless subscribers reaching 1,021.75 million, the sector regulator in a finding Tuesday said.

Jio has added 9.4 million users in March to take its user base to 307.7 million, while Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel lost 14.5 million and 15.1 million customers, respectively, to take their subscriber bases to 394.8 million and 325.2 million during the same period, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said.

Bharti Airtel had 27.99% subscriber market share, Vodafone Idea 33.98% and Jio had 26.40% market share as of March 2019.
Vodafone Idea’s active use base, or VLR, was 93.27% of its overall subscribers, while Reliance Jio was at 84.04%. The finding revealed that Bharti Airtel has the maximum proportion – of 100.82% – of active wireless subscribers in the month of March 2019.

In the broadband segment, Vodafone Idea had 19.57%, Bharti Airtel 20.35% and Reliance Jio had 54.45% market share as of March this year.

The monthly decline rates of urban and rural subscription stood at 0.90% and 2.98% respectively in March 2019, according to Trai.

The regulator added that in March, 5.30 million subscribers submitted their requests for Mobile Number Portability (MNP), and the cumulative porting requests have increased from 423.11 million in February to 428.40 million at the end of March 2019.

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/jios-adds-9-4-million-customers-in-march-airtel-vodafone-idea-lose-trai/69430347

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References:

Reliance Jio may overtake Vodafone Idea & Airtel to become India’s largest telecom firm by 2018 year end

 

Reliance Jio Blankets India with Inexpensive 4G Service; Where are the Profits?

 

Samsung deploying small cells in large volumes for Reliance Jio in India

 

Samsung deploying small cells in large volumes for Reliance Jio in India

Samsung Networks is deploying small cells in large volume for indoor coverage for Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio, which is set to have 99% population coverage soon in the country, according a Samsung executive.

“We have seen drive happening on indoor small cells. But that doesn’t mean that outdoor isn’t happening. Outdoor is happening at a good speed basis the site availability and so on… We will continue to expand on this piece of the network [indoor] because there are places where it’s more value to go that way,” Srini Sundararajan, Senior Vice President and Head of Networks Business at Samsung India, told ET.

“Jio tells us what their network requirements are, and we support…indoor always volume looks larger because devices are smaller and are easy to deploy and are self-configured,” he added.

Samsung Networks had earlier this year obtained a new 4G LTE network expansion contract from its sole customer in India, Reliance Jio, to increase the telco’s 4G network penetration from around 75% to 99% by Diwali this year.

The South Korean company is the sole 4G equipment provider to Jio with contracts to supply wireless base station equipment for over 140,000 sites for pan-India coverage last year, ET had earlier reported.

Samsung deploying small cells in large volumes for Jio's indoor coverage: Networks head

Image courtesy of Economic Times Telecom (India)

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Sundararajan said that Jio is expanding its networks for both coverage and capacity needs in the country. “It has to be both. There are still parts of the country we need to increase the coverage. Some of the hilly areas or remote areas. For every project, there is a certain percentage of sites for coverage and a large percentage is for capacity,” he added.

For capacity, Jio has started commercial deployment of massive mimo technology in areas where it is not able to add new sites easily.

In addition to 4G wireless equipment, Samsung is also providing packet core technology to Jio. The executive said that the virtualised packet core will play a crucial role in the 5G scenario.  Samsung is currently preparing to conduct 5G field trials in New Delhi in the first quarter of the next year, and is working closely with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

“We have a lot to offer similar to what we did on 4G, and which is why we said that we will partner with the DoT. We are directly partnering with the DoT to ensure that we listen to the needs of the government,” the executive said.

He added that the government’s involvement in these 5G field trials is very crucial for the successful commercial roll out since there will be 5G use cases that will have “societal value” along with the business value.

“The government is very proactively enabling and promoting to grow the 5G network. They are very aware that it is the ecosystem, and not just a vendor or operator. So they tend to bring different players into it to ensure that we are able to provide a high-value system for the country,” he added.

Samsung will be conducting the trial using the millimeter wave (mmwave) spectrum even as other vendors like Huawei plan to conduct trials in the mid-band.  Sundararajan said that the millimeter wave band will offer a large chunk of spectrum that can result in uses cases like fixed wireless access (FWA) with huge capacity for data services. “We need to have the technology in the mmwave to enable the true vision of the government,” he said.

Samsung is currently doing 3.5Ghz trials in the mid-band in South Korea, and in the US, we are doing mmwave trials. “We are technology agnostic, but use cases will drive the adoption of one of these bands,” he said.

References:

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/samsung-deploying-small-cells-in-large-volumes-for-jios-indoor-coverage-networks-head/66555444?photo_id=65769267

 

Reliance Jio Blankets India with Inexpensive 4G Service; Where are the Profits?

Highlights and Quotes from India’s 5G Congress 2018

India Selects Cisco, Samsung, Nokia, Ericsson for 5G trials; Bars Huawei and ZTE

 

India’s DoT Creates Dedicated 5G Technology Test Bed after Ericsson 5G Demonstration