Telcos Busy Upgrading Networks

Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio have started to prepare their networks for the futuristic 5G technology, introducing massive multiple input multiple output into their respective networks. Massive MIMO is a key enabler for 5G networks that are expected to be rolled out after 2020. Bharti Airtel has already started with the first round of deployments in Bangalore and Kolkata and will expand to Pune, Hyderabad and Chandigarh.

Idea Cellular, which now has a pan-India 4G network, is trialling massive MIMO technology in various cities. Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio, which has all-IP network in India, had earlier said its 4G network can be easily be enhanced to 5G and beyond.

Massive MIMO ramps up a base station by five to seven times and reduces interference substantially, helping boost transmission signal to the devices. A subscriber using voice and data will get data speed between 30 Mbps and 35 Mbps on average and even up to 50 Mbps during peak times. Comparatively, depending on one's 4G plan, the mobile in ternet speed varies from 4 Mbps to 16 Mbps on paper.

The technology can be deployed in highly congested or high traffic areas, to improve indoor coverage and in high-rise buildings.

Analysts said the technology allows a telco to improve signal reception increasing link capacity so for the same amount of spectrum, one gets better spectral efficiency and data rates. For a customer it means much faster downloads.

Currently, gear vendors like ZTE, Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia are working with telecom operators in the trial the technology in various circles. Huawei and ZTE have taken lead and commercially deployed massive MIMO technology for Airtel in India, while Ericsson is in talks with telcos over 5G technology solutions.

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