#5GCongress 2021: Need abundant 5G spectrum at lowest possible cost: Airtel CEO Gopal VittalNEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel chief executive officer, Gopal Vittal, called for the need of “abundant spectrum” availability for 5G services in the country and sought clarity over the spectrum roadmap. He also reiterated the need for making spectrum available at the “lowest possible cost.”

“…because ultimately, where you want the money to go isn’t rolling out networks, and building the spine that the country needs,” Vittal said during his keynote speech at ETTelecom’s 5G Congress 2021 virtual event.

He said that there is a need to create an “ecosystem of innovation” for 5G use cases in India, and the entire telecom industry needs to work with the government and regulator to work together to create these use cases.

“…who would have thought, for example, 10 years ago, that there would be the growth or the whole advent of the food delivery industry, or the ride sharing industry, all of this was built on 4G networks. In much the same way, you need a dramatic proliferation of use cases around innovation to exploit this technology. And that means building this ecosystem,” he added.

Bharti Airtel recently demonstrated 5G readiness through its live demonstration of the high-speed service using its commercial 4G network in Hyderabad.

Vittal, during his speed, reiterated telcos’ demand for spectrum in the E and V bands to create a strong backhaul network for 5G networks in India.

“…the two routes to delivering backhaul are either fiber or microwave. While fiber is important, and India needs more and more fiber, I think there are really powerful microwave technologies that also give you incredible capacity for backhaul. And this is where the E and the V band come in,” he said.

The top executive said that the access to the E and V band for operators will allow them to deploy backhaul at a fraction of the cost without digging or without destroying the environment.Vittal also said that while there is a need to drive innovation by India for India, the industry needs to align with global standards for the 5G technology.

“…you need standards that are global standards that are uniform. If the standards are global, then the Indian ecosystem will flourish,” he added.

Bharti Airtel, he said, is driving the development of OpenRAN technology through its participation with the global O-RAN community.

Vittal revealed that the telco is currently working on “cutting-edge” 5G use cases through various partners. Earlier this week, it announced a partnership with American chipmaker Qualcomm to develop a 5G-based fixed wireless access (FWA) use case in the country.

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