India: Cisco & Airtel to launch 5G-ready network

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Bharti Airtel (Airtel), India’s largest integrated telco, has announced a collaboration with Cisco to launch what it says will be India’s largest 5G-ready, 100G IP and optical integrated network designed to enhance network availability, capacity and scale. The deployment is part of Airtel’s initiative to build a 5G ready network that continues to serve the growing demand for high speed data services in the country.

India is currently the world’s second-largest telecommunications market with a subscriber base of 1.17 billion. Cisco’s recent Annual Internet Report forecasts there will be 67.2 million 5G connections in India by 2023 (4.9 per cent of total mobile connections), and 66 per cent of all devices will be mobile connected by 2023, (34 per cent will be wired or connected over Wi-Fi).

Airtel’s network serves over 280 million mobile subscribers across 4G and 2G technologies. Airtel says this new IP over Ethernet over Fibre network is “the largest hyper-complex brownfield network transformation of its kind in India, collapsing multiple legacy domains to build a flatter, simpler and automated 5G-ready IP network for enhanced customer experiences”. It integrates Cisco IP and optical solutions along with segment routing to extend services in rural communities while improving network availability and creating cost efficiencies.

The flexible and self-healing architecture is built with a programmable and software-defined platform to deliver mobile internet growth. It has already realised significant speeds with scale to enable new, advanced B2B and B2C services. The open standards architecture with automation brings in efficiencies for new and legacy infrastructure, eliminating manual touchpoints in a brownfield environment.

“Airtel continues to transform its network to ensure greater availability and reach across India to deliver best-in-class mobile experience for our customers,” said Randeep Sekhon, CTO, Bharti Airtel. “Our ongoing collaboration with Cisco is critical in helping us to be 5G-ready, collapsing multiple legacy domains to build a flatter, simpler and automated network with more bandwidth to support internet services and the endless growth in consumer and business applications people rely on every day.”

“Airtel is transforming its network to be modern, adaptable and scalable to accommodate the phenomenal mobile growth in India,” said Anand Bhaskar, Managing Director, Cisco Service Provider Business, India and SAARC. “Together we are delivering a highly-scalable IP and optical network throughout India that enables broader mobile access to connect more people, and more businesses who can do more with the internet.”


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