Intel and Indian telecommunications operator Bharti Airtel announced a collaboration to drive network development of 4G and 5G virtualized radio access network (vRAN) and open radio access network (RAN) technology.
Work by Intel and Airtel will evolve communications networks from fixed-function equipment to virtualized cloud-native deployments and enable edge-to-cloud communications, Intel said in a release.
“Being able to digitally power the vibrant population of India’s connected users requires scalable and agile networks that can evolve to address the growing demands of its users. 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,” said Dan Rodriguez, Intel corporate vice president, Network Platforms Group.
Airtel’s network will be powered by a number of Intel products, including the latest Xeon Scalable processors, FPGAs and eASICs, Ethernet 800 Series, and FlexRAN reference architecture.
“Airtel is delighted to have Intel as a part of its rapidly expanding partner ecosystem for 5G,” said Randeep Sekhon, CTO at Bharti Airtel. “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.”
As members of the O-RAN Alliance, both companies will work closely to develop a range of “Made in India” 5G solutions and enable world-class telecom infrastructure in India through local partners.
Bharti Airtel and compatriot company Tata Group had recently announced a strategic partnership to implement a 5G network in India. Under the agreement, Airtel will pilot Tata Group’s O-RAN-based radio and NSA/SA core beginning in January 2022 as part a larger push to utilize solutions and products that are made in India.
Airtel has begun 5G trials in major Indian cities using spectrum allocated by the Department of Telecom. Earlier this year, the provider demonstrated 5G over its existing spectrum in the 1.8 GHz band in the city of Hyderabad. Airtel used spectrum sharing, allowing the carrier to operate 5G and 4G connections from within the same spectrum block.
Earlier this year, India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had authorized Indian carriers to carry out trials of 5G technology in the country. DoT said that the permits were given to Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio Infocomm, Vodafone Idea and MTNL, which will carry out these 5G trials in partnerships with vendors including Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and C-DOT. In addition, Reliance Jio Infocomm will also be conducting trials using its own technology. Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE were not included in this phase of 5G trials.