Airtel says it is ready to roll out 5G services in India as soon as the spectrum auction takes place and the government provides the required permits. The spectrum auction for 5G is expected in May this year. The telecom operator has spent the past 15 months preparing the infrastructure required for 5G connectivity and believes it is ready to deliver the services, the company’s CTO Randeep Sekhon told India Today Tech on Thursday. on the sidelines of an event where Airtel demonstrated how 5G can shape the future of interactive sports entertainment by recreating Kapil Dev’s famous 175 that didn’t come out of the 1983 World Cup.
“Now the 5G rollout is very close. The government is pushing for the auction date. Once they give us the spectrum, we will start the rollout. We have spent the last 15 months setting up the good infrastructure for that,” Sekhon said. .
The last 12 months have not been easy for telecom operators. We have seen all the major telecom operators increase the prices of their 4G data plans in India during this period. However, Sekhon hopes that 5G plans won’t cost much more than existing 4G plans. He gave the example of other markets where customers don’t have to pay extra for 5G services.
“We won’t know the final costs until after the spectrum auction. If you look at other markets, where operators are already proving 5G, we haven’t seen them charging a premium for it over 4G” , did he declare.
The first set of 5G phones was launched in India almost two years ago. We have yet to see network support for them. This leaves users with an interesting choice to make – 4G phones with high-end specs or 5G phones with a few discounts. Asked about it, Sekhon said customers make smart choices. Some of them are waiting for 5G to roll out before buying a new phone. He added that the phones should also be evolved by them and you would have 5G with the latest specs.
Airtel used the event to showcase the high throughput and low latency capabilities of its 5G. He used the 5G network to recreate the in-stadium experience of Kapil Dev’s famous 175 not out against Zimbabwe in the 1983 Cricket World Cup. The video was streamed in 4K mode and brought to life key moments of the match, which had no video footage due to a strike by television technicians. It was played at a high internet speed of over 1Gbps and latency of under 20ms. However, the actual speed may differ.
Sekhon believes that 5G will have many cases, but the entertainment part will also depend on the support provided by content providers.
“5G will ensure that we have very fast internet speed. Suppose we are working from home or want to stream 4K videos but we don’t have fiber connection, then 5G will ensure fast internet speed. As for is about content consumption and a more immersive experience, we’re going to need content providers for that,” he said.